Search This Blog

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Back to work!

I haven't blogged since April, as the world was so uncertain that it was impossible to set any argument in context.

We now know that the UK has a majority Conservative government, that has already amazed people by implementing its manifesto promises.

We now know that the German Finance Minister was a better game practitioner than his [now vanished] Greek opposite number was: because the Greek had the immense handicap of being an economic game theorist. In the end, the Greeks were more keen to be in on the euro - at any price, to them [and eventually to their partners] - than the Germans were to bail them out on their own terms. The terms that were agreed effectively suspended Greek sovereignty, and thus were a salutary example [and warning] the Europe.

It will now be massively more difficult for David Cameron to 'sell' his cosmetic changes in the UK's relationship with the EU as being enough to persuade the nation to stay in a position where they are vulnerable to loss of sovereignty. Interesting times!

Meanwhile, there is a possibility that the Labour Party in the UK will head into the setting sun, and oblivion, by electing Mr Corbyn as leader. The alternative, a scouser who [true to the type] finds it easier to talk than to listen, is still the front-runner: if he wins, he may succeed in decelerating the decline of "the party we love": but he will not make it electable.

And the sad rump of the Lib-Dems in parliament are now to be led by a man who put his leftish principles above the desire to share in tasting ministerial power: while most other prominent members of the party joined Cameron's coalition, he stood aloof. It is sad, therefore - for him - that his principles, like those of most honest Labour Party followers, will become increasingly irrelevant in a country led [heaven help us] by GG Osborne.

I look forward to being online regularly from now on.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Assertion of copyright

I claim to have invented the two words "itty" and "nessi" to use in emphasising the distinction between 'productivity' and 'productiveness' as emphasised in my book ROTTENOMICS: REINVENTING ECONOMICS.

I will be blogging again regularly in a few days' time. I have been busy with other publications.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Even More Worrying

One rather hopes that politicians always know they are lying, then we know what game they are playing.

But I have an eerie feeling that Gideon our Chancellor of the Exchequer really believes that the basic economic data are favourable for the United Kingdom. He bases this optimism especially on the facts that the Gross National Product is increasing at around 2.5% this year, and that millions of people are doing very low-paid jobs.

Neither of these items is actually good for the economy, or for the people who depend on it.

The gross national product is merely the guesstimated total of transactions in the country: so it is immaterial whether the products that are sold are British made or imported. Provided more is traded at rising prices, or yet more at constant or falling prices, the GNP goes up. So the more people are employed to unpack and to sell imported goods [or to fit imported nail designs] the more GDP and employment go up. But when imports exceed imports by more than 6% of the total national income, as now, that means that a sum equal to 6% of the total reported turnover is owed to foreign producers.
This deficit must be clocked up as additional external debt - on which we have to pay interest - or used by foreign investors to buy yet more control of British companies [whose customers thereafter have to pay tribute to the foreign owners of those businesses]; or dwellings in London that are mostly unoccupied. Either way, in addition to buying more than we import, we have to pay more every year for what was borrowed or sold out in the past. So every increment in the GNP at present increases the country's indebtedness to aliens.

In addition, much of the purchase money for imported goods is borrowed within the UK: so private debt is increasing. Private debt is further increased as people borrow to fund house purchases at rising prices. Increasing proportions of exiguous wages are dedicated to debt servicing, and every added restriction on lending to the poor further reduces their aspirations to enjoy anything like the lifestyle they see others enjoying on the telly.

Furthermore, as had been emphasised by all opposition politicians [including today the LibDems], the national debt to fund government spending within the UK has increased under Gideon's supposedly brilliant custodianship.

So personal debt is up, domestic national debt is up, and debt to aliens is up: and the net result of five years of deleterious reductions of many public services is a disaster. Of course, some areas of government were ineffective and inefficient: so austerity in those areas served the taxpayer well; but the overall net result of cutbacks in the public sector has done nothing to mitigate the economic scene while it has notably devastated the social system.

If it were not so ruinous to the economy in the medium term, one could merely lament Gideon's adherence to the nonsense Economics that he was taught as a student. But as it is so utterly devastating, his delusion will not save him from a reckoning.

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

The Sale of 'Justice'

The barristers are in a tizz because they recognise that the pattern of available work is being changed by the reckless policy of cuts being imposed by the government. In particular, they argue this week that the severe reduction in the availability of legal aid for civil cases [cases brought by one person or business against another] has almost completely been removed from smaller-value cases. This means that neither side can afford to employ a barrister to take the case to court: and the barrister profession as such calls this a denial of 'justice' to the litigants.

I can have no sympathy with them, as long as they harbour in their midst the sort of despicable character that attempts, in court, to blacken the characters of abused children as a form of mitigation for the appalling abuse that the defendants have undeniably committed. A recent case in Oxford Crown Court was darkened still further by the fact that one of the barristers who used this defence was a woman. This disgrace to the human race was defending in a criminal case, so her remuneration was provided by the taxpayer. While this is considered by the Bar Council to be acceptable conduct, the population should display utter contempt for the entire profession. Of course the tenants of the most expensive chambers in the Temple would never take such cases, and thus would not be tempted to use scurrilous tactics; but they do not act to elevate their lesser brethren from the mire in which they choose to wallow.

The sooner Britain's outrageous confrontational courts system is abolished, the better!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Gideon Sells More of the Family Silver

The Chancellor is greatly pleased with himself: he has been to some degree instrumental in selling the government's block of Eurostar shares. Of course, a major tranche of those shares are allocated to a Canadian pension fund. The rest goes to equity investors who will either sell to aliens or sell to Brits who will, in due course, sell to aliens.

He purports to believe that such actions are good for the country. They bring in cash, which he can waste on bread and circuses for the masses. Then the foreigners own the assets, and we don't.

This is just a tiny example of the gadarene rush to despoil the country of its remaining assets. Each such sale pumps a bit of cash into the country, until in the course of circulation it is used to buy imports: then the consumption of those imports is the final destruction of the wealth that was alienated when the capital assets [including, in many cases, intellectual property] passes out of British hands.

It beggars belief!

Saturday, 28 February 2015

Compounding Failure

The debate that has limped through recent days, largely in the letters columns of the minority press, shows the utter failure of the political class to recognise the constant imperative to maintain the national defences at whatever that may cost. The U K is effectively defenceless against jihadism, and the government (even more, the official opposition) is not willing to contemplate either the cost or the content of building adequate defences. Yet the chattering classes would have their political chums are talking pretty recklessly helping the spivs who run Ukraine finally to suppress - if not expel - the indigenous Russian speaking minority; who number several million. Whatever the weaknesses of the official Uranian army, the tough nut volunteers (notably the Azov brigade) are determined racists who want to wreak upon Russian speakers their vengeance for the horrors perpetrated on the country by the Georgian tyrant who called himself Stalin.

Retired generals, admirals and Air Marshals have battened onto the slogan that the UK should spend 2 % of GDP on Defence. That is nonsense: the country should spend what is necessary, thus generating employment and spin-off technology.

In the nineteen-naughties Germany started to build 'super-Dreadnoughts' . This alarmed the establishment of then-patriotic and intelligent people. HMS Dreadnought had been designed to put the Royal Navy ahead of all comers, but the Germans could copy it and their construction programme could enable them to pull ahead of Britain. So the cry went out "We want eight, and we won' t wait" and we built eight of these things every year until we outnumbered Germany' fleet. Nobody counted cost before national security: the money had to be found!

The country has effectively been stripped of defensive capability ; and, even more worryingly, of any willingness openly to face the fact.

Friday, 27 February 2015

Arrogance versus folly

Ed Milliband has produced the first seriously silly proposal of the election campaign from a major party, ignoring the bloody experience if the Libdems in government. He is trying to buy the student vote by cutting fees in universities in England from £9K a year to £6K. Thus the debt on fees from a three year degree falls from £27,000 to £18,000. As students interviewed on TV olast evening said, add to this the debt from maintenance over the same three years and you face a total of some £50,000 at the present fee rate and £41,000 in Ed's Wonderworld. Big Deal! Ed tried to mitigate this by pointing out that the poorest students can get maintenance grants and universally bursaries, that somewhat reduce the maintenance burden. But someone aged 21with an indifferent degree in an oversupplied subject from a less-fashionable university - with no underpinning from the Bank of Mum and Dad - will face a difficult world with a debt of around £30K and the prospect of earning around £21K annually if they can get jobs at all. A notional reduction in the debt that lower-paid graduates may never have called-in is a very bad joke to the person who is expected to vote Labour to secure this huge benefit.

Meanwhile the ineffable rubber-faced Gideon at the Treasury gloats at Britain's "world beating" rate of economic growth. Any country can record a growth in turnover if more people are employed on minimum wages to sell more imported goods on credit. But it all hastens the day when the material despoliation of the economy becomes so severe that sources of credit are sealed off and the ruin that has been wrought on the people becomes fully evident. That arrogance is much more dangerous than Ed's sheer silliness.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Greece cannot lose.

Very few informed Europeans can be ignorant of the fact that the Greek Finance Minister is a game theorist who has pushed the art to its limit in classes and in academic journals worldwide. He knows what game he is playing.

Most of the uninformed subjects of the eurorats of Brussels have accepted the proposition that the issue with Greece is one of financial probity: it is said that Greece has been even more profligate than Ireland or Italy since it joined the Euro, and needs to stick to its undertakings to bring its finances into line with the demands of the EU, the ECB and the IMF.

Not many people outside the UK and Russia want to admit that the European Union is in every element of its being a political structure. It has massive economic ramifications, but they are, and always have been, subject to the political imperative of ever-closer union. While the originators of the project were clear that their underlying motive was to remove the possibility of internecine war from the European continent; it is no longer anything like so clear-cut as to what Union - let alone 'ever-closer union' - is meant to achieve.

The common currency, the euro, was purely a political venture. Again, it had economic implications that have far exceeded the prognostications with which it was ushered into existence; but the fact that it was an adjunct to the political process was never challenged seriously. Thus in declaring that the participating states had sufficiently 'converged' in their economic plans and data that they were fit to share a common currency the political judgement transcended the economic in all cases. It was common gossip that Italy and the Iberian countries, Ireland, Greece and Cyprus had window-dressed [i.e. had optimistically massaged] their data, with the EU further airbrushing the picture: these were seen as trivia in the achievement of the greater objective.

With that as the basis on which the whole structure rests, political fudge is available to maintain the appearance of the structure; at least for the purblind pursuers of the tarnished 'ideal'. Greece will make further promises, almost on schedule by the middle of this week. Funds will be released. Conditions will be promulgated that nobody can expect genuinely to be fulfilled. Austerity in Greece will be eased: but not by enough to maintain the fickle electorate's faith in the new government. So the European Union will stagger on into another decade where the central accounts of the Commission will not properly be audited and ever-more-egregious fantasy declarations of the Commission will be respected to some extent in various of the member states.

Friday, 20 February 2015

The Bishops and the Gas Bill

The bishops of the Church of England have gently pointed out that there is a great gulf between the 'political class' and their supposed constituents, and that this may be greater than ever.

When most politicians were from the landed classes they necessarily mixed every day with dozens of servants, from whom they would receive many home truths. In the glory days of the Labour Party almost all of those who became MPs had been hands-on workers and often long-serving trade union officials: the minority of intellectuals in the party were constantly reminded that their constituents were honest sons and daughters of toil, and even when they became ministers this lesson was constantly reinforced. Almost all of this has gone: few Tories ride every day, few Labour MPs live permanently in terraced houses exposed to neighbourly contact [though a few have - rarely occupied - such properties as part of their propaganda facade]. The politicians who have waxed comfortably over the past couple of decades are more remote from 'hard-working families' than any who have gone before them.

The Scots have found their own solution to the problem; and how that works out in the next parliament will be fascinating. I think the English and Welsh can consider that exception remote from their own options; though it will influence what is possible very considerably. My acquaintance are almost uniformly of the view that UKIP will take votes but not seats, but that may be enough to upset the statistical predictors. The next government will be Conservative or Labour and its members will be no less isolated from the mass of those whom they purport to serve,

My little book, Rottenomics: Replacing Economics, is available on Amazon [and will shortly be on Kindle]. Its opening paragraphs make exactly the same point as the Bishops make, with an important difference. I go on to say that a major factor in the alienation of politicians from people is the politicians' adherence to absurd economic propositions. This has superbly been illustrated this week.

The Competition and Markets Commission has been considering household energy bills, and has found that millions of people have 'lost' hundreds of pounds by not shopping around and switching their supplier, The clever Economics graduates who now work for sectoral regulators as 'regulatory economists' have a mission to compel the participants in markets to behave as their textbooks say participants in the economy should behave, thus to create an 'efficient market'. Most consumers take the view that they pay for regulators to control the market and ensure that suppliers treat customers fairly: so why should people spend many hours trying to understand deliberately obfuscatory billing and pricing systems, then venture into an alien world of websites in search of a supposedly better deal. They have to take the site and the information that it gives to them as being entirely objective and personally relevant. Millions lack the confidence to go down that route, and hundreds of thousands do not have the competence to do so. And why should they bother, if there is a regulator? Is it the task of the regulator to ensure that fair [lowest possible] prices are charged, or - as now seems to be the case - is it their role to force hard-working householders and deserving pensioners to jump through hoops so that their behaviour conforms to a nineteenth-century fantasy about 'competition'? I know what most people would prefer. That is their choice: so why not facilitate it rather than frustrate it?

Monday, 16 February 2015

Saving my Bacon?

Over the past week or so I have been both excited and seriously embarrassed.

For a considerable time I have been preparing to set out my views on the rottenness of academic Economics and its need for reformation; and I planned to call the short book BLEAKONOMICS.

In the run-up to publication, I 'googled' that word - and found that someone had already produced their text [on the recent 'economic crisis'] under that title. So I fell back on the alternative, ROTTONOMICS. That was published on-line yesterday by Amazon; the Kindle version is due to follow soon.

I welcome any comment or advice, however critical and negative

The only similarity to my title I can now find on Google is Rotten Comics; which [in my view] is a reasonable description of advanced economic theory as it emanates from academe.

I shall return to normal bloggery shortly.

Friday, 6 February 2015

Pathetic Politicians

Most of the leading members of the British political class have studied Economics.

This does not help them to do their job even adequately. The theory that they have been taught has been the basis on which misconstrued and ruinous policies have been pursued in the UK for longer than their lifetimes.

Take the most obvious item of economic data, which is presented as the touchstone of Cameron's and [even more so] of Gideon Osborne's asserted 'success' in office: the claim that 'economic growth' is good for the country. The growth consists of both consumers and the government borrowing money to fund purchases of imports. Sales of imports have grown, and more people  have been employed distributing and selling imports to each other, wearing imported clothing and eating imported food. Millions of them wash in water that is delivered to them by foreign-owned companies who can export any profits the supplier can make. The water is heated by foreign-owned gas and electricity supplies. A huge proportion of the branded goods that they buy - of familiar things like HP sauce and Sarson's vinegar - are foreign owned; so the net profit of those sales is allocable according the the interests of foreign firms. It has been reported as quite a coup for the government's propaganda war on 'tax evasion' that Starbucks [brilliantly branded, horrible coffee] has finally admitted to the attainment of a tiny profit on the turnover of their UK outlets which can be taxed before the bulk of the actual profit is allocated via Luxembourg to the greater expansion and profit of the firm outside the UK.

A rigorous examination of the British economy produces hundreds of thousands of incidents of expanding turnover taking net profits out of the UK; and fewer and fewer examples of profits flowing the other way, year on year, as the government welcomes 'investment' in the form of alien takeover of yet more British firms. This has been an alarming process.

The only positive way in which an economy can grow is by both indigenous and foreign investors putting their capital into activities in the country concerned, and then continually reinvesting the bulk of the profits that accrue to successful activity in further development of productive potential in the country, Britain has been growing negatively - by selling its profit-generating assets - for the past three generations. As a result, a majority of the population have become, in the true sense, paupers: people whose livelihood depends on state handouts as state pensioners, benefit recipients or as members of households that receive some sort of income supplement. And, of course, more and more of the handouts are borrowed by the government, in defiance of what the government wants to happen.

No member of the political class has confessed to this reality as they shape up for a fatuous battle of slogans in the coming election. Most people would love to be members of really 'hard-working families' whose work generates profits and investment for the British economy: but none of the buffoons offers them the means of achieving that simple objective.

This is the national tragedy..

Sunday, 1 February 2015

BLEAKONOMICS

This is a very important week for me.

I am to publish my little book - Bleakonomics - in which I suggest that the confection of normative propositions known as Economics has become lethal whenever its practitioners are allowed to drive public policy.

Having made that assertion as baldly as possible, I then set out what remains as the basis of a rational and defensible description of the contemporary economy. Much of the public policy that should be followed is directly derived from the science of Political Economy, as it stood in 1870 before it was swept aside by the new [and essentially fantastic] Economics.

The greatest gap in both the Political Economy that was taught in Cambridge during the tenure of the Chair there by Henry Fawcett and the Economics that was set out by his successor, Alfred Marshall, was a failure to recognise the crucial role of intellectual property of all kinds as a factor of prime significance in the system. It remains a glaring gap in Economics to this day; though various half-cock nostrums have been thrown at the matter by the few who have allowed it to trouble them.

I will report on progress with this, as well as commenting on economic events egenerally in the coming period.

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Accepting Lies Will Catch You Out

The unloved and unaudited eurorats who manipulated the negotiations that led to the foundation of the Euro knew that they were basing the whole structure on two lies.

One was the untruth that all the original member countries had 'converged' sufficiently in their economic performance for the currency to be able to work. It was stressed in large portions of the press at the time that the data were more-or-less heavily 'massaged' by several governments, including most of the those in southern Europe. Greece was the most outrageous liar, but the spivs wanted the eurozone to be as comprehensive as possible from day one; so the lies were accepted. The eurozone has lived with the consequences of that acceptance ever since, and the recent Greek upset is only a stage in the unravelling of the skein of untruth.

The other lie was the assertion - in which all of the EU joined - that it was possible to have monetary union without economic union. This allowed national governments to maintain their own divergent economic policies, and to continue falsifying key statistics. The Governor of the Bank of England spelled this out in Ireland yesterday, though Ireland has tried conscientiously to implement agreed policies, once the myth of the 'Celtic Tiger had duly been buried.

It is a universal truth that your lies will be exposed; equally true is the proposition that the conscious acceptance of lies, as north European governments did in the euro negotiations, will come back to embarrass you.

Friday, 23 January 2015

Vampire Votes for Europe

Today's news are that the monster vampire squid - a certain US banking group - has come out strongly in favour of Britain remaining in the European Union. The banker-friendly regulatory regime in London, that so nearly released the world economy to self-destruct in 2006-8, has been tightened; but not so much that it is no longer the global bankers' favourite playground.

And every Briton should give thanks for that every day, because finance is one of the few UK business sectors that is productive for the economy; in the sense that a net profit come to London in terms of tax revenue and distributed profits, to staff who live here and shareholders who mostly don't live in the UK but who reinvest some and spend more in London.

Although the EU institutions and the eurorats who wallow in their corruption hate the City of London they have not yet been able to suppress its enterprising an innovative spirit. Thus while most British voters would prefer to be free of all that 'Brussels' represents in terms of interfering, largely irrelevant regulation and cost, the profitable 'banking' and motor industries would probably have to put their profits into Europe-based rather than UK facilities if Britain were to leave the EU.

David Cameron, with immense immodesty, has offered himself as the one person who can so successfully 'renegotiate' British membership of and participation in the EU that a majority of the population would vote to remain in on his terms. I don't believe that he can. No European leader has said that they would support treaty revision, and most have said it is out of the question. The British people are not daft enough to take the word of a politician - especially not one who has spent five years in close proximity to the despised ex- and perhaps future-eurorat Clegg - so the terms will not be taken according to Cameron's spin.

The strongest probability is that Cameron himself will be forced to recognise that any package that the rats let him take home can't be sold even to the disillusioned British electorate. Thus before we vote we need to know what his Plan B will be. If he still goes for an in/out referendum he can make a deal with Farage, and take Britain further down the road to economic ruin.

The odds are that Cameron won't have a chance to negotiate, because any coalition partner he may find - other than Farage - in the event of the Tories being close to having a parliamentary majority will stymie any plan to leave the EU.

 In the event that the sorry figure of Milliband becomes tenant of Number Ten, his probable allies the ScotNats will demand their renegotiation to allow a future independent [probably bankrupt] Scotland to be fast-tracked to membership of the EU. Spain and others will veto that. So whatever decision the people make in June, the EU will loom large and ugly in British politics for years to come.

Oh dear!

Sunday, 18 January 2015

Half of the World's Wealth

Today's media are making much of the 'analysis' by Oxfam that the richest 1% of the human population will own more in personal assets than the other 99% by sometime next year. Put another way, this means that more than half of all the personal assets in the whole world that are taken into account will belong to that 1% of the population.

This is taken to epitomise 'inequality'. It is Thomas Piketty's reason for proposing a global wealth tax, and the basis for the Vice Cable idea [now adopted by the Labour Party] of a 'mansion tax'. Robbing the rich to help the poor has been the ages-old method for defusing peasants' revolts; yet within a few years following any redistribution the wealth of the rich is again consolidated so that disparities are greater than before.

No existing textbook of 'advanced' Economic Theory explains how disparities of wealth arise, or how they could be reduced, if the political will existed to attempt some forced equalisation. Indeed, Economics has no explanation of inequality, because it does not explain what wealth is, or how it is generated. The time has now come when a majority of educated citizens may be willing to recognise the fact that Economics is an anachronism: and a hindrance to understanding how the system really works.

Of course, there are quibbles to be enjoyed about what the data mean. Much wealth is held by collective private-sector organisations like pension funds, most of which is allocated to providing future benefit to individuals, but it is impossible to allocate their shares to persons at the present time. Much wealth is also held by governments, effectively in trust for their people. When Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister the British people collectively owned a huge coal-mining industry, gas and electricity, telephones, water supply, airlines, railways and ports, Rolls-Royce and a host of other ancillaries and industries. They also owned a massive acreage of land and all public buildings. Most of this huge asset base was shut down or sold cheaply; and it has now passed to foreign ownership. Instead of being asset-rich, the British people must pay toll and tribute to the alien owners in perpetuity: and there are still people who hail Thatcherism - and privatisation, in particular - as a triumph from which future generations will benefit.

The future is bleak: hence I am in the process of publishing BLEAKONOMICS: my explanation of how the economy came to be as it is, and how an economy really is structured. I hope that it may do much to explain the disparities of wealth that have grown so massively in an era when Democracy and 'fairness' have supposedly prevailed. That publication is the main call on my time at present; once it is 'out' I will be available for discussion via this blog.

Sunday, 11 January 2015

Piketty in Context

A huge amount of interest has been shown, in most countries of the world, to the writing of the French Economist [really, a Political Economist] Thomas Piketty. By massive statistical work, he has shown that income and wealth inequality between individuals in every country that he can assess has increased in the past decade.

For a considerable part of the twentieth century the extremes of income between the rich and the masses were coming closer together. There were many explanations available for this equalisation of access to the good things of life: including progressive income taxation. But the trend ended and disparities of wealth have subsequently become extreme.

Picketty's primary solution to this is to impose a global wealth tax on large fortunes, with appropriate accompanying taxation of incomes. It appears to be the case that rising rates of income tax for greater incomes can advance to 50% on the top tranche of higher incomes without any detrimental effect on investment and thus on the growth of the economy. The practical problems of getting more than 150 states to come into line on the principle of such taxation, let alone of implementing it simultaneously and to the same standards, are surely insurmountable. So the proposed solution - like the earlier proposal for a global levy on transactions in the financial sector - is just a wonderful work of imagination.

Meanwhile the real and worldwide growth of inequality proceeds apace, expanding the gap between the politics of the right and of the left and demonstrating that politicians and Economists are stumped by the situation. The rich are increasingly able to buy political influence, while the masses experience alienation from political rhetoric from all sides. The few who seriously embrace fringe parties - as distinct from the many who temporarily allocate their votes to such parties - usually are types who alienate rather than attract their fellow citizens. Where an attractive or dynamic personality appears in the leadership role, as Nigel Farage has appeared in the United Kingdom Independence Party, the number of votes released to such a party can increase significantly; especially if the less attractive members are unrecognised in the media.

Picketty's analysis of economic inequality is first rate: but he has not exposed the real causes for the recent rise of inequality. I plan to fill that gap in the coming weeks: watch this space!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Sinking Britain

Last year, I made a serious mistake.

Under the title SINKING BRITAIN I published a e-book that brought together my polemical history of the mismanagement of the British economy since 1945 and my own explanation of how a modern economy works.

The result was confusion: an indigestible and largely unreadable concoction. Kind friends made this clear, in the nicest possible way; and I cottoned-on quickly. I then spent several months carefully separating and then reconstructing the two strands as separate texts.

The simple history has now been published, as a slimmed-down SINKING BRITAIN.

The text that is the more important to me - my exposition of the basic structure of Political Economy - is now being edited for publication as BLEAKONOMICS. It will be out soon.

Meanwhile Master T Pickety has refused the Legion of Honour on the grounds that the President of France should be focussed on the redistribution of wealth rather than engaging with fripperies and baubles; and David Cameron has launched a Tory election poster that is the height of complacent mendacity. So the world has begun 2015 exactly as it ended 2014, and the sense that nothing is new pervades public life and business.

I am genuinely hoping to shake things up with BLEAKONOMICS: we shall see!