The new global context

February 26, 2015

This was the theme for the World Economic Forum gathering held at the end of January in Davos. The WEF [committed to improving the state of the world] has 1000 core members who are the largest corporations in the world. This year, in addition to hundreds of journalists, there were over 2500 participants from 140 countries, 1500 being business leaders. Enda Kenny was one of 40 heads of government and state, together with numerous other politicians, attending – presumably to impart the secret for successfully exiting Ireland from the Euro bailout. He was part of a panel discussing economic growth and political stability, alongside the German vice-chancellor and the prime ministers of the Netherlands, Finland and Latvia. He was able to narrate how Ireland had evolved from a crisis country to a recovering economy to a growing one. He faced accusations that companies like Google and Facebook, who are big employers in Ireland, have avoided paying tax through elaborate arrangements with the Irish government. Nearby Zürich airport was overflowing with private jets for the five-day event. If there is any possibility of obtaining the collective view of the private sector then this should be it. Read the rest of this entry »


Locomotive engineer has a dream

February 17, 2015

As usual the President’s State of the Union address was made to the US Congress in January by Barack Obama. By its nature it is insular as he speaks to “my fellow Americans”. Given that both Houses of Congress are now under Republican control, the last two years of his presidency are likely to be dominated by deadlock. He appears to be resigned to this situation, where he is unable to make progress on new initiatives and finds himself defending attempts to reverse policies that are unpopular. There is no doubting his rhetorical skills, but the substance is somewhat lacking, and he has yet to make his mark on the pages of history with a memorable quote. His attempts to emulate Martin Luther King and John Fitzgerald Kennedy have been a failure. Time is running out for him and frustrated by gridlock he is about to enter the ‘demob happy’ phase of his presidency.   So, what was his message – “tonight, we turn a page” and “the shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong”. Read the rest of this entry »

Lost Horizon

February 11, 2015

Last Thursday Nicholas Clegg had his head in the clouds and seemed to be promising heaven on earth.  He was, together with Danny Alexander, holding a LibDem press conference at the Shangri-La hotel on the 52nd floor of the Shard skyscraper in London.  We can only imagine their purpose in choosing this unusual venue at the highest building in Europe that is also the biggest green-house in the world. With its panoramic view of the City (financial capital of the world) through glass walls there must have been a subliminal message about occupying the commanding heights of the economy.  In Lost Horizon, Shangri-La is the mythical valley in the High Himalayas, a sanctuary where the environment is conducive to well-being and a pro-longed life.  Another subliminal message about the LibDem green credentials and better standard of living?

Any message about their plans for the economy – tax rises and budget cuts – was lost in the mist surrounding the top of the Shard that obscured the view of the City = a lost horizon.  The news media were more interested in asking Clegg about the opinion poll that indicated he was going to lose his Sheffield Hallam seat in May = a lost message. Read the rest of this entry »

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