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Inconsistencies

As part of the Brexit debate, we are being told by the “remainers” that we need to protect home producers, which is what the EU’s Single Market has done for the past 40 years. In other words, imports are a bad thing and dumped goods are the worst of all. American President Donald Trump is saying much the same thing – that US industry should be supported, by keeping out imported...

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The obscene Institution of ‘ability to pay’

I received this from a correspondent yesterday. It is food for thought. “From my contract work, more evidence of the tax collectors’ wicked approach: He won’t come after your because your tax planning is fraudulent per se. You’ll attract their attention based largely on how much more they estimate they can squeeze out of you relative to the associated collection costs of...

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Vacant buildings law collapses

Vacant buildings and sites used not to be subject rates, the UK national tax on business property. The Rating (Empty Properties) Act 2007 removed this exemption. We were sceptical about the legislation at the time and events have proved us right. Property owners have been trying to challenge the legislation and have now got their way. The owner of a building in Sunderland took the Valuation Office...

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An essential book for a confused time

PROTECTION OR FREE TRADE? was written by Henry George in 1886. It is still in print and readily available. It rebuts most of the arguments being put forward by both camps in the Brexit debate, as well as the protectionist sentiments that seem to be at large in the USA following the election of Donald Trump. It has become essential reading, for it provides a guide to the morass of debate that has...

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Fee trade area

The Single Market is described as a free trade area. In reality, is very expensive. It means that if you want to trade with me, even if we are next-door neighbours, we can only do so legally over a 20% high tariff wall between us – Value Added Tax. In some EU countries, the internal tariff wall is even higher – 25% in Sweden. That is not much of a free trade area. Fee trade area, more...

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The symbiosis of Marxism and Neoliberalism

The current problems with social democratic parties world-wide stems ultimately from an ideological failure. Insofar as contemporary socialism has any ideology at all, it is Marxist. There is a fundamental flaw with Marx which is these days not widely known and understood. He conflates land and capital. They are separate entities.

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Geography matters

The importance of geography Рreview of a book by Tim Marshall, Prisoners of Geography. The separation of economics and geography as academic discplines is one of the reasons why economic problems seem so intractable. Geography goes a long way to explaining phenomena such as regional economic imbalance and the Brexit vote. This book sounds as if it is worth looking at.

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The Grosvenor Estate

The death of the Duke of Westminster has drawn attention to the fact that the estate is not liable for inheritance tax as it is vested in a trust. This has led to indignant comments and charges of tax avoidance. The Grosvenor Estate is one of several owned by aristocratic families, which together encompass a large area of Central London. The pattern of land ownership in Central London has hardly...

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What should the Chancellor do today?

The immediate aftermath of the Brexit vote was always going to be a period of disruption. The smart response would be to take advantage of the freedom available outside the strait-jacket of EU regulations. There are a couple of immediate boosts the Chancellor could give to the UK economy. Reduce VAT on building works to zero for an initial period of two years. Reduce VAT on restaurants and hotels...

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Protection racketeering

I have just been engaged in a correspondence in the FT. I argued that Brexit needs to begin by getting ourselves outside a tariff wall. I was challenged with this comment “The EU’s tariff wall is what is protecting us. Countries like the US can decimate the British wheat farmers. Japan can decimate the UK car industries (by switching the production back to Japan from the UK) and the...

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