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Showing posts from October, 2020

Trade, saving and an economic disaster

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The UK is running a trade surplus. No, really, I am not joking. This is from the ONS's latest trade statistics release:The UK total trade surplus, excluding non-monetary gold and other precious metals, increased £3.8 billion to £7.7 billion in the three months to August 2020, as exports grew by £21.4 billion and imports grew by a lesser £17.5 billionIt's the first time the UK has run a trade surplus since the late 1990s:
 And if you were thinking this was because of the lockdown, you would be wrong. The UK has been running a trade surplus since the beginning of 2020: Admittedly, the trade surplus widened under lockdown. But the UK economy reopened to some degree from June to August - and yet the trade surplus continues to widen.

This is no doubt music to the ears of balance of payments obsessives. Could the UK at last be pivoting away from a consumption-led growth model to an export-led one? At first sight, it appears so. Exports have increased more than imports. And the strong…

A Financial View of Labour Markets

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We are used to thinking of workers as free agents who sell their labour in a market place. They bid a price, companies offer a lower price and the market clearing rate is somewhere between the two. Free market economics, pure and simple. But actually that's not quite right. The financial motivations of workers and companies are entirely different. To a worker, the financial benefit from getting a job is an income stream, which can be ended by either side at any time. But to a company, a worker is a capital asset. This is not entirely obvious in a free labour market. But in another sort of labour market it is much more obvious. I'm talking about slavery. Yes, I know slavery raises all sorts of emotional and political hackles. But bear with me. I am only going to look at this financially. From a financial point of view, there are more similarities than differences between the slave/slaver relationship and the worker/company relationship - and the differences are not necessarily …