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September 01, 2020



All good pints. But as discussed previously, the primary question of UK politics has moved from economic/social to constitutional. In that sense everywhere is Northern Ireland now. Economic policy can be outsourced, chopped and changed as appropriate.

andrew Kershman

I have never voted Tory in my life and never will, but I do think that their approach and indeed this article manages walk a very fine line between being both Hazy and Fantazy. It also does something very vital in these times of Covid and as we head towards a no deal Brexit, namely it asks is John Wayne really Big Leggy! Fantastic stuff!


I guess the Tories can just watch the US election and see how well the "no platform" approach works out for the Republicans. Just need to kick that can down the road for two more months.

Mind you, they might need to actually do something before then.


«economies are stickier than Thatcherites assumed. Instead, we see the decline of whole areas. Should today’s Conservatives do more therefore to protect jobs, or to help people move jobs?»

In the case of the City and in general the property and finance industries based in the Home Counties and London tthe tories (New Labour and Conservative) spent close to trillio in outright donations and 0% "rollover forever" loans to protect the jobs, bonus pools and asset prices of their core constituents, and the "free trade" Economist, that gleefully approved the "better dead than red" harrowing of northern industry wrote instead advocating an unlimited bailout of the finance industry (and indirectly of property):

«Britain will one day wake up to discover that it has lost one of the world's most successful business clusters, and the best hope the next generation has of earning a decent living»

Robert Mitchell

"There is a case for shifting tax from profits to land, because the latter cannot move. But of course, this hits landlords whilst benefiting other businesses."

See the chart in this tweet: https://twitter.com/rcwhalen/status/1298341380864053250?s=20

The chart shows the price/book value of Real Estate Investment Trusts. I take "book value" to be the "ground rent" that tenants actually pay. The "price" is how much you can sell the bundle of ground rents for. You could sell hybrid REITs for 8 times what the underlying land was worth.

Thus, by investing in REITs, you earn higher profits without owning land. (And what tax is ever assessed on REIT returns?)

Any land tax will miss the vast majority of real estate profits because finance allows you to make money off land without needing to own land or pay taxes on land.


Covid and Brexit may replace need for a philosophy with needs must approach. For last few decades a low productivity economy has been propped up by immigration, the end of free movement and points based visas may shift capital to productivity increasing approaches away from labour intensive ones.

A permanent shift to regular WFH (I suspect a more even split between office and home) may see rebalancing away from city centres, better paying jobs spread away from current clusters, eventually benefiting current peripheries. People will be able live in places they can actually afford. In turn city centres will eventually become more affordable again.

Obviously there is pain involved. The endless chains of casual dining outlets, heavily staffed by EU immigrants are already contracting. But there will opportunities in the locales. Living in the London commuter belt (East Surrey) I think small towns and villages are bouncing back strongly as people who usually disappear to London five times a week stick around more. I have colleagues living up and down the country who haven't been into London for five months, chains near the office may have lost trade but they still spend near where they live.

There will also be pain for institutional investors in property, it's already happening in high street retail space, so if office space (and dependent retail) follows there will be anger from some pretty powerful people (Cummings won't give a fuck about Polish waiters, but institutional investors are a different matter). But that surplus of city centre office and retail space could eventually be converted to residential space. This will be a ready made replacement for those institutional property investors; large scale, long-term, tenancies in professionally managed developments delivering stable returns to pension funds etc.

The market may actually force positive changes where central economic policies have failed.

Bill Bedford

I wonder just how many of those people who decide they want to work from home will end up thinking than working for someone else is a mug's game and go on to start their own business.

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