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October 26, 2023



Interesting, but I suppose the missing bit in the article the why here, now, in particular.


"Managerialism has, in many places eclipsed management" is such an insightful point. We need to change the incentives and rewards for good management. I agree that competition is the most powerful tool to do this.


Managers believe thay can manage anything without knowing anything about what they are managing. In fact success in management is now more than chance.


Good piece and it chimes with what I've observed in heavy engineering and offshore wind in my 28y career.

What you refer to as managerialism I'd call feudalism. Too many managers in my experience view their team as peasants to be controlled rather than focus on managing the processes to see that they are delivering effectively. Feudalism views personnel development as a risk to their status, which is something that the feudal manger views highly. The more people they manage or the more managers they manage the more important their status.

The feudal manager views the engineer and technical specialist (eg doctor) as a threat because the specialist knows more than the manager. Another feature of this is that the feudal manager hordes decision-making responsibility and management information. The specialists cannot be trusted with making decisions because that would undermine the manager. By having a small number of people making decisions then that either increases the time and hence delay in making decisions or it generates further managers to make the decisions of a smaller number of people.

Feudal managers are chosen for their club ability and loyalty, not their technical competence as that challenges the higher level manager.

In dealing with shipbuilders fabricators and offshore contractors in those 28y the British are the worst managed. They are the easiest to get on with, they have good people at a technical level but they can't deliver to a schedule and will over-promise or under-price rather than report the truth.

A generalisation of course, but typical in the round.

In contrast the Dutch are great to work with. Blunt and direct, my experience of Dutch project managers is that they leave the technical decisions to the engineers and specialists and focus on the delivery schedule and planning horizon.


What fraction of the $10 trillion transacted by JP Morgan daily is for real goods and services? If the overwhelming majority of money these days is spent on financial goods, why continue to harp on about productivity as if real activity weren't just a drop in the bucket compared to financial market transactions? How do you realistically propose to eliminate all the nonviolent voluntary financial market trading activity (which, incidentally, gave our blogger his riches) without using repressive means of subverting the free will of so many (such as myself)?


The Brookings Institution’s main conclusion in the late 1960s with respect to UK management was similar. Nothing changes!


I have no quarrel with the view that generally UK management is average at best. But are there any good examples? Take James Dyson who invented a new form of vacuum cleaner. Was he a good manager or just a man with a brilliant idea?


«These important policy issues have something in common. They all pose the same question: do we as a country have the management ability to achieve what we'd like to? Casual evidence suggests not.»

Our blogger wrote a good book on managerialism, but here he writes as if "managerialism" was just a process issue but the issue is really political: the past few decades have been decades of thatcherite managerialism, not social-democratic managerialism.

And thatcherite managerialism has actually been very successful: middle class and upper-class people have had booming living standards for decades.

Our blogger keeps arguing as if the UK economy had been mismanaged for decades, but the reality is that middle and upper class people are very satisfied with how much better their incomes have been during those decades. That is what matters. Lower class people have been shafted but they don't matter.

«In this respect, the state not so much an empirically-based solver of genuine economic problems»

The economic problems of the middle classes and upper classes have been solved for decades. When there have been issues literally trillions have been used to fix (or perhaps merely postpone) them by the Treasury and the BoE. Just see the explosion in the BoE balance sheet.

«but rather an embodiment of Marx's point: "the executive of the modern state is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie."»

And of the petty bourgeoisie to. Again “managing the common affairs” of Upper England and Middle England has been very successful, "managerialism" works well for them. If it did not work well for the lower classes, that's not because of "managerialism", but because of political will.


What if firms like robinhood are democratizing finance so poors like me can take advantage of the same money-printed free lunches that have served the bourgeoisie so well, even as they pay "economists" to weave all sorts of fantastical theories proving that there is no such thing as a free lunch? Can I cite my own proof-of-concept options portfolio as evidence that anyone can hedge options bets so that you book a profit no matter what (at the cost of constantly checking your phone because you might have to get out of a hedged position quickly?)?


On rereading I still cannot imagine how our blogger can fantasize that in the UK “the state not so much an empirically-based solver of genuine economic problems” when there is the recent end continuing example of the 2008 crash being empirically solved with many hundreds of billions of free cash and free loans to friends-of-friends.

Perhaps he does not regard the 2008 problems of finance and property spivs as "genuine", but I am sure they felt losing their fortunes very genuine to them. The question in politics is *whose problems* should be solved.


A Tobin or financial transaction tax. Negligible at your volumes, considerable at JP Morgan volumes. Not to mention high frequency computerised trading and front running.

@counterfactual, James Dyson just took an industrial system (Cyclones) and applied this to vacuum cleaners. His other early innovation, the ball wheelbarrow, (a ball instead of a front wheel) was not such a success.


"today’s elite appear parasitic by comparison. In many cases, what private equity delivers amounts to asset-stripping or consolidations that leave most people worse off, yet add little new output to the economy. This has been called "conspicuous destruction"."

The bigger the pyramid, the harder the collapse.

"Life has recently become more difficult for private equity, as central banks abandon their easy-money policies. Returns are falling and new money is drying up, but demands for cash from investors continue. As a result, private equity firms are resorting to increasingly opaque deals, such as transferring assets across their own funds, to meet investor demands for cash. Given how unregulated private equity is, it could be storing up some nasty surprises should the markets turn sharply."

*whose problems*

Strangely, the fate of the winners of the last forty plus years, are not my greatest concern.


«*whose problems*

Strangely, the fate of the winners of the last forty plus years, are not my greatest concern.»

But it ought to be because they have a lot of power and they will use to keep in place the politics that have made them winners.

BTW there is a grave fault with democracy based on "one person one vote": that only works if the voters are in fact not much different in power. If some voters are in fact more powerful than others, either that fact gets recognized within the institutions, or they will use their power to work around or undermine the institutions.

For example in "the west" people with power have taken control of nominations, given that voting does not give them enough weight. So what their interests are should be of much concern not just to them.


«Maynard Keynes famously said: "Anything we can actually do, we can afford." But perhaps we cannot actually do very much because we just don't have the management skill to build things, provide decent services or increase efficiency.»

I have remembered that JM Keynes also wrote:

“The nineteenth century carried to extravagant lengths the criterion of what one can call for short "the financial results," as a test of the advisability of any course of action sponsored by private or by collective action. The whole conduct of life was made into a sort of parody of an accountant's night-mare. Instead of using their vastly increased material and technical resources to build a wonder city, the men of the nineteenth century built slums; and they thought it right and advisable to build slums because slums, on the test of private enterprise, “paid”, whereas the wonder city would, they thought, have been an act of foolish extravagance [...] For the minds of this generation are still so be-clouded by bogus calculations that they distrust conclusions which should be obvious, out of a reliance on a system of financial accounting which casts doubt on whether such an operation will "pay. We have to remain poor because it does not "pay" to be rich. We have to live in hovels, not because we cannot build palaces, but because we cannot "afford" them.”

That “paid” and that “we” imply two different categories of people: those who would have to pay for the “wonder city” and those who “have to live in hovels”.

It was not the “system of financial accounting” that caused that, but the simple self-interest of those that would have to pay for building other people's homes. It was a success of their politics, not a failure of management skills.


Aragon, can I quote C. H. Douglas in "Dictatorship by Taxation" (1937):

《In fact, the whole theory of taxation as a justifiable expedient rests upon two propositions; first that the poor are poor because the rich are rich, and therefore that the poor would become richer by making the rich poorer; and secondly, that it is a justifiable procedure to have a system of accumulating riches, and to recognize that this system is legitimate, while at the same time confiscating an arbitrary portion of the accumulated riches. The latter proposition is very much the same thing as saying that the object of a game of cricket is to make runs, but if you make more than a small number they will be taken off you.

Please allow me to emphasize the point that I am in complete agreement with those who contend that some individuals are unduly rich, just as I am absolutely confident that taxation is not the remedy.》


Does Blissex not understand that Keynes is saying no one has to pay for the wonder city because prices are arbitrary and money can be printed as needed to meet arbitrary demand? Is Keynes zero-sum, or did he understand how credit arbitrarily increases money supply, and that central banks can backstop the private credit creation (as Japan is proving with a debt-to-GDP sky-high and rising without bound)?



Money is the ability to deploy resources, the poor need them, the rich have an excess.

Taxation just resets the score (not even to zero - you still have the league table) after the cricket match.

I am with the palace builders (a socialist), but the trowel I have is not equal to the task.

The current neoliberal approach has clearly failed. A new approach may eventually benefit everyone.



Titus Salt - Saltaire
Lever Brothers - Port Sunlight
Cadbury - Bournville Village

A few small historic examples for people with the power and/or resources.

Joseph Rowntree - New Earswick.
(Not associated with a factory)

"I do not want to establish communities bearing the stamp of charity but rather of rightly ordered and self governing communities".
Joseph Rowntree

Ben Philliskirk


New Earswick is associated with a factory, the massive Rowntrees chocolate factory a mile or so down the road in York, and was built for its workers.


@Ben Philliskirk
Not according to Wikipedia


"The building of New Earswick created a balanced village community where rents were kept low, but still represented a modest commercial return on the capital invested. Houses were open to any working people, not just Rowntree employees. The village was to be a demonstration of good practice."

Obviously proximity to the factory, was useful to minimise travel.


When has taxation reset any score? Isn't there a recent report showing the attempt to tax corporations has had no effect? In my neck of the woods, why has the state's new carbon tax simply been passed on to the little guy, resulting in the highest gas prices in the nation? How has the carbon tax hurt corporations? And what kind of ridiculous, frivolous pet projects are they spending Washington state's Climate Commitment Act on? Why should I trust that taxes are good for me when they simply raise my costs to prioritize spending on groups that exclude me?


«The current neoliberal approach has clearly failed. A new approach may eventually benefit everyone.»

The current neoliberal approach has had a huge success, in its own terms, which were not "benefit everyone", no poor management there, as our blogger imagines.

That is what it make neoliberal politics so strong: they have a large (if minority) constituency that have benefited a lot from it. It is not the 1% or the 0.1% shafting everybody, 14 million voters are not voting thatcherite because they want to continue becoming poorer.


Tax is only paid by people, taxes paid by corporations, would otherwise be distributed to people (shareholders, management, workers etc) Sometimes using Tax Havens and Tax evasion/avoidance.

House prices are falling. High Interest rates, result in high mortgage payments. Or some other trigger for collapse.

14 million voters are about to become poorer (a crash?). Some will vote Labour (or LibDem), but as neoliberals Labour too will fail them too.


"The bad news is that this won’t be nearly enough unless the main parties can agree to a joint, long-term strategy, back it with sufficient money, and stick to it. "Scale, longevity, interdependence of policy appear to be core ingredients of both success and failure," says Andy Haldane, the managing director of the Royal Society of Arts, in his interview for the paper. "UK plc’s done, in relative terms, a poor job of all three."

Nothing changes for the Red Wall.


For the uber rich (and lesser mortals). Pay reflects value and status. And wealth is a status symbol rather than the ability to purchase goods and services.

So taxing pay (and other income) allows the score to be displayed while transferring the utility to the state.

Pay £4 Million p.a. before tax.
Disposable income considerably less, due to taxation.

If charity contributions are tax deductible, the uber rich can be magnanimous in their giving and select which good causes, while avoiding taxes.

At the end of the day, it's about who gets what, and the game is heavily rigged in favour of the 0.1% and as for the 14% they are been taken for a ride, as they have the illusion of wealth not real wealth.

Over inflated house prices and massive liabilities.



""Interest-rate rises have ended Britain’s wealth boom and caused total household wealth to plummet since the pandemic," said Ian Mulheirn, a research associate at the Resolution Foundation."


""While the situation may change in the future, these regional disparities again highlight the need for a range of reforms to insulate households against wealth volatility that transfers resources between generations based on luck. Fairer and more effective taxation of wealth is a critical part of that agenda, with Britain’s biggest wealth tax – council tax – in particular need of reform to make it more fairly targeted and less regressive", he added."

Inheritance and Land Value Taxes?


You could call it a failure of political management, but neoliberlism is approaching collapse.


"Warning that the "consequences of successive governments’ short-term policymaking" were coming home to roost, the IfG said that "public services that have for years been creaking are now crumbling"."

Even the Conservatives can now read the writing on the wall.


Aragon, so are you saying the best way to afford high gas prices in my state is to invest in oil companies?


OPEC+ may or may not have reached peak oil. But particularly in the Americas unconventional oil and gas have smoothed the back slope. (No steep decline).

Search Engine results, A Couple of years old (March 2022).


"The industry, which has twice betrayed its investors, now has financial PTSD. Fracking companies are so worried about shanking their investors that they have barely drilled new wells as prices have climbed. (Last week, as Russian oil fell off the global market, the number of fracking wells in the U.S. actually went down.) This new "capital discipline" has turned the industry into something of a cartel. Scott Sheffield, the head of Pioneer Natural Resources, the country’s biggest shale company, declared last year that no fracking company would drill a new well even if the price of oil went above $100 a barrel—which it has. "All the shareholders that I’ve talked to said that if anybody goes back to growth, they will punish those companies," he said."

More recently (Search Engine):


"Flat or falling Lower 48 production will contribute to a tightening global oil market during the final four months of 2023, especially since Saudi Arabia and Russia are set to maintain their own production cuts.

But prices have already started to increase in response to the Saudi and Russian cuts, easing some of the pressure on U.S. producers.

Extra cuts announced by Saudi Arabia and its OPEC+ partners have thrown a lifeline to U.S. shale firms, ensuring any downturn in U.S. output is shorter and shallower than it would have been otherwise."

Despite the above, I do not and can not, provide investment advice on this or any other subject and have no special sources of information, knowledge, or insights (just opinions).

US Fracking 'Financial PTSD' should be a warning to all.


Another general background article on Net Zero.


"A report from the International Energy Agency (IEA), published last week, claims that the world will reach peak demand for oil, coal and gas by 2030."


"Even the most ardent environmental zealot will soon have to reckon with the new geopolitical reality. After all, if Greens in Germany’s governing coalition can be convinced to defend coal plants, there’s every chance American politicians will soon be encouraging fracking and drilling from Alaska to Texas."

And the UK?


If I invest $25k in BNO and USO, and sell call and put spreads on them, can I pay for the gas I use?

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