Showing posts from 2015

Here I stand: I can do no other

I wasn't going to write another post about the WASPI campaign, but things have become so unpleasant and confused that I have no choice. This post is my final and definitive statement on where I stand on the women's state pension debate. Hence the title. My view of the women's state pension age problem I described the women's state pension age problem in some detail in a previous post , so I shall only outline it here, along with my view on each part of this complex problem. Recent changes to women's state pension age are these: The 1995 Pensions Act raised women's state pension age (SPA) from 60 to 65, the same as men's. To give women time to prepare, the transition did not start for 15 years, and it then raised the age over the course of 10 years, from 2010 to 2020. The effect was that women born prior to 6 April 1950 would remain eligible for the state pension on their 60th birthday, but women born later than that would see their eligibility gr

The road to the workhouse

I do not like the direction in which our society is travelling. From a joint statement by several Christian churches, published in the Methodist Times in October: In March this year, the Churches  published a report  showing that nearly 100,000 children had been affected by sanctions in 2014 alone and that people with mental health problems were being sanctioned at a rate of more than 100 per day.  Seriously? 100,000 children are affected by sanctions imposed on their parents? Let us remember what sanctions do. They deprive families of the money they need to pay for shelter, heating, food and the basic essentials of life. So 100,000 children were deprived of the basic means to live. What sort of society is it that does this to the innocent? And it gets worse.        The report told stories like that of Martin*, aged 60, who missed an appointment with the job centre because his wife died suddenly. He was sanctioned for six weeks, leaving him with nothing to live on and i

The Basic Income Guarantee: what stands in its way?

Guest post by Tom Streithorst The Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) is back in the news.  The Finns are considering implementing it, as are the Swiss , replacing all means tested benefits with a simple grant to every citizen, giving everyone enough money to survive. Unlike most current benefits programmes, it is not contingent on being worthy or deserving or even poor.  Everybody gets it, you, me, Rupert Murdoch, the homeless man sleeping under a bridge. Last seriously proposed by Richard Nixon in 1969, more and more economists and bloggers are suggesting that the Basic Income Guarantee may ultimately be the salvation of capitalism.  The BIG will eliminate poverty, lessen inequality, and vastly improve the lives of the most vulnerable among us. But that is not why we need it. It may seem impractical, even utopian: but I am convinced the BIG will be instituted within the next few decades because it solves modern capitalism’s most fundamental problem, lack of demand. Tec

When the world turns dark

The world turns on its dark is winter A Child of Our Time, Michael Tippett "Man has measured the heavens with a telescope, driven the gods from their thrones," proclaims the contralto at the start of Michael Tippett's wartime oratorio A Child Of Our Time . Like our counterparts before the dark time of which Tippett writes, we too believe that science leaves no place for religion. But religion endures, and when the world turns, it comes back in its most violent form, tearing part communities and entrenching sectarian division and even outright racism.  Our world is turning. As the memory of the financial crisis fades, the financial world moves "from war to peace", gradually restoring interest rates, somewhat relaxing tight constraints on banks, wondering how financial institutions should be regulated to prevent crises in future. But outside the rarefied world of finance, movement is in the opposite direction. It is only a small distance fro

The New State Pension is unfair to whom, exactly?

The WASPIs are angry again. About the New State Pension, this time. Apparently it is unfair to women, especially those born in the 1950s. Paul Lewis, in the BBC's Money Box email (h/t Annie Shaw), lists six problems: 1. Women born 6 April 1951 to 5 April 1953 all reach state pension age before the new state pension begins. So they won’t get the new state pension while men of the same age – who will be 65 when it begins – will. That is sex discrimination and they want the choice to have new or old.   2. Women born 6 April 1953 to 5 April 1959 were told about their state pension age rise just a couple of years before they were 60 and their age was raised not once but twice. That didn’t happen to any men.   3. Women will generally do less well than men out of the new state pension. Even by the 2050s one in seven women won’t get the full amount because they don’t have 35 years’ contributions compared with one in ten men. It is also expected that more women than men will not ge

Unreasonable expectations and unpalatable truths

At the ICAEW's conference "Do Banks Work?" last week, there was a fascinating interchange between Ian Gorham of Hargreaves Lansdowne and RBS's Ross McEwan. Apparently RBS had refused a large deposit from Hargreaves Lansdowne, to the irritation of the asset manager. "There is a problem placing client money", said Gorham. And he went on: "Banks don't need people's savings, because they now have much more capital to support lending. This means that savers receive much lower interest rates on deposits. For an ageing society, this is a problem".  This is a variant on the "banks don't need savings because they are awash with cash due to QE" meme. It does at least have the merit of understanding the structure of a balance sheet - for the same assets, if you have more equity you need less debt. But the WHOLE POINT of all the regulatory reforms of the last seven years was to force banks to deleverage - permanently. The inevitabl