Saturday, 18 March 2017

Brexit: the end of the great British ponzi scheme

According to Reuters, a poll reports that a third of European companies expect to cut investment spending due to Brexit uncertainties and a tenth of those with operations in the Britain plan to pull out of the country.

"Over half the companies said they did not expect Britain leaving the European Union to change their investment plans, but 24 percent anticipated reducing investment "somewhat", and 8 percent "significantly", the survey, published on Friday, showed."

There's two points I would make here. Firstly we don't know exactly what Brexit looks like. It might well be that for many businesses, the trading environment does not change.

Secondly, I'm not bothered. Right now, the only thing propping up the economies of the regions is massive state spending. Hinkley Point, Trident, HS2 consultancy, the QE carriers, F35 etc.

When we are told that European firms are investing in the UK we have to ask what they mean by investing. What it tends to mean is buying failing shell companies just to make use of their established infrastructure such as a UK headquarters then bidding for OJEU contracts. They won't bring any expertise of their own. They will hire engineers and managers on a zero hours basis and cream off a cut for themselves. They are shell companies that add no value - and many of them are subsidiaries. I've worked for three of them in recent times.

With Hinkley Point, the eye watering strike price is much the same as the Renewable Obligation Certificate scheme. An incentive to make a bad idea attractive to business. Rather than being direct taxation it effectively grants corporates a licence to raid our wallets through our energy bills.

Politicians love it because it notionally creates jobs - but that is a result of government spending, not foreign investment. EDF is not a charity either. They are not putting money into the EU economy for shits and giggles. They have spotted a number of opportunities to fleece us. The Short Term Operating Reserve system is a massive money spinner.

And who does this keep in jobs exactly? Middle class engineering graduates. People who vote Tory/Blair. Effectively, since 1997 the UK national grid has been an elaborate corporate welfare scheme whereby the mug punters are obliged to fund the vanity schemes of politicians peddling their eco credentials.

Brexit will shut a lot of this down. We don't know if the OJEU system will carry on as before. Not sure I would miss it. Meanwhile, since trade takes a hit and tax receipts decline, a lot of the batshit stuff will likely be shelved. The Swansea tidal lagoon and HS2 might very well be put on the back burner indefinitely. We will also see a number of nuclear energy projects put on hold.

What this means is an emergency situation where we are no longer on track to keep the lights on so we will be forced to build CCGT plant. Gosh. Imagine that. Actually buying the kit we need at the price it should be!

As to whether we want "investment" in our defence sector, I can't say I will miss Thales or any of the other thieving French defence parasites.

There is free market investment and then there is the stagnant economic model we have been operating pretty much since 1987. All of it financed with debt, entitling ever more greedy corporates to shave off slices of our income.

Brexit shatters these economic norms. In fact, if the Tories do make a pigs ear of the Brexit process then in all likelihood we won't be able to borrow and spend our way out of this as our credit rating will be shot to pieces. Again, my give-a-fuck-o-meter needle is barely moving.

As it happens, Brexit is going to cause quite a lot of economic realignment and abandonment of long standing policies. And that's the whole point of it. And will be be substantially less well off for it? For the time being, yes. It will be made even worse by the Tories who have no idea what they are doing. But then that's what you get for handing over governance to Brussels for forty years.

I've been noticing quite a lot recently that the UK economy is a ponzy scheme and ever since the 2008 crash we have been operating on cartoon physics. We don't fall until we look down. Brexit bursts that bubble.

As I see it, the fundamentals of the UK economy are not sound. The City is a life support machine and little else is generating any serious revenue. I even see it manifested in the countryside where agriculture is gradually being abandoned. One of the more distressing facets of that is seeing Somerset plastered with solar farms.

We could have maintained the status quo without addressing any of the fundamentals, and we might well have continued to evade the consequences of 2008. It could well have continued making us fatter, lazier and pampered. But there is a price for that.

China is waging an economic war on the West and the Chinese don't give a shit that we're doing less and producing less. It will only take a generation or two to rob the West of its financial hubs and then we are left with nothing. All the while, as we become dumber and less capable we see a gradual bleed of vitality. We will lack the ability to bring about any kind of economic restoration.

Further to this, Brexit has not caused any new divisions in the UK. It has only revealed them. There is a massive economic and social disparity between London and the regions and that cannot continue. It is that more than anything that is breaking the Union. Anything Scotland can say can also be said by Yorkshire - only Yorkshire doesn't have a clan of knuckle scraping nationalist gobshites to make noise in Westminster.

What we need is an economic forest fire to allow light to fall on the green shoots. This economic era is one belonging the previous century and we need to remodel it to cope with the globalised Internet world.

The remainers would rather duck this question. It's expensive, it's time consuming, it's a hassle and yes, it's quite a bit scary. Nobody my age or younger has ever experienced political upheaval of this magnitude. We are presently in a phoney war where nobody quite understands just how profound Brexit is and just what will happen when it hits. There will be economic casualties. Our habits will change and so will attitudes. We're going to be correcting a few mistakes and making a few new ones.

There is no real certainty to be had save for one. Things are changing. And that's good because they need to change. This unreality bubble of bogus prosperity has to be popped. If we don't do it then we will hand this poisoned chalice to the next generation and leave a bigger mess for them to sort out.

So no, I don't care about foreign investment. I don't care to maintain the status quo nor do I wish for my generation to preside over the stagnation and cultural decay caused by political inertia. Just look at Westminster. That's all the proof you need that we cannot go on like this.

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