Trump Relaxing Banking Regulations Could Sow the Seeds of the Next Financial Crisis

Trump relaxing banking regulations could sow the seeds of the next financial crisis. I don’t think he understands that regulation is a good thing, as the consumers need to be protected, rather than a bad thing. It seems he takes his orders from Steve Bannon and somehow believes deregulation will cause growth in the short term. This is bad news for the long-term outlook for the world. Hopefully the next US president and government pushes back against this and undoes the damage before it’s too late.

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Britain’s Hard Brexit Will be a Disaster

With a hard Brexit, Britain is shooting itself in both feet and then trying to dribble like Messi.

Poem: What Next for The World?

What next for the world,

What next for us?

What next for the world,

Is it written on a bus?

What next for the world,

What next for the good?

What next for the bad,

What will happen –

What should?

Could,

Would,

Be,

Is it time for us to live the future free?

The Effect of Technology on Future Employment

The effect of technology on future employment, as highlighted by business leaders at Davos, is profound. More and more software, computers and robots will be replacing human workers, and some of it has already happened (think the lack of as many human cashiers in supermarkets).

One answer to the increased joblessness and lack of expendable income is a “spending wage” for citizens for doing no work at all. This would stimulate the economy by allowing people to purchase consumer goods, though it may not solve the self-esteem issue of people not feeling that they have a purpose in life, or that they at least have a diminished purpose in life.

Why Ireland is so Popular for Multinationals

Forget what people have said about multinational corporations coming to Ireland only in order to pay our very low tax rate. It’s hogwash. Those companies could go to many, many different countries to avail of low taxes. The real reasons why they have chosen Ireland as their destination is because Ireland is geographically close to the Europe, it is a member of the EU, it has a highly qualified, skilled workforce, its people speak fluent English, it doesn’t have a lot of red tape so it’s fast and easy to set up shop there, it’s a peaceful country so it’s very stable, politically it is also very stable and that doesn’t look like changing. Having a low tax environment is quite helpful for the company to maximise its profits also, but it’s nowhere near the be-all and end-all.

We can be very cynical and negative and display all the signs of an inferiority complex when it comes to evaluating our country, but Ireland’s success is justified only partly by happenstance (such as the fact that we speak English), and partly by visionary planning by the IDA (where they decades ago to focus on technology and pharmaceuticals as two growth industries the IDA should attempt to woo in order to get a lot of investment into the country).

Ireland has been a success story in many ways, and it’s healthy to celebrate that. It may be a relatively small island with a small population, but – to use the cliché – it really does punch above its weight. Most multinationals investing in Ireland are, of course, American, and perhaps there is something to the fact that Irish people make up a proportion of the US population, so they may go with a country for the European market whose culture they understand.

The Branding of Juventus and Pogba

Like it or loathe it, Juventus’ new logo is another sign of the branding and commercial focus of soccer clubs nowadays. Juventus is up against all the other big clubs and they need to make an effort to stand out. Even if I happen to like the new logo, the announcement was full of the usual marketing mumbo jumbo, so it quickly became annoying and pretentious.

It may also be a mistake. Juventus’ logo is recognised by millions so to change it seems like a silly waste of money and, more importantly, branding capital. They have to start from scratch with this new logo. It helps that it features a capitalised “j”, but still. Much more important, however, is the players this club can attract and what it can achieve on the pitch.

Paul Pogba spent a bit of time getting “p”s shaved into his head and having two capitalised “p”s bleached a greenish yellow colour to signify “Paul Pogba” on his noggin alongside getting his own Twitter emoji. Considering his performance against Liverpool on Sunday he should probably be focusing on how to get the best performance out of himself for his club. Though I think it has become clear to a lot of people that his choice to move to Manchester United was driven as much by commercial and branding ambitions as soccer ones.

All Publicity is Good Publicity in US Politics

This opinion piece: http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/kathy-sheridan-the-media-got-it-right-on-trump-but-nobody-cares-1.2877809 is clearly just one angle rather than a comprehensive assessment of why Trump won. This is partly because The Irish Times wants to write more than one article about Trump.

Anyway, the US media made Trump. The Irish Times and the rest of the Irish media are obsessed with Trump – just like the US media.

Of course the media, as a group, want to say they had no part in Trump’s victory, but it’s just not true. What Trump understands about publicity is that all publicity is good publicity in US politics. People, after having a candidate thrust into their faces for a year and a half, forget why they know the candidate’s name but they sure as hell remember that person’s name, and hey, what’s he promising? Change? That doesn’t sound bad to them.

Tesla Death Is Tragic but Cars That Self-Drive Are Still Needed

tesla-autonomous-driving-car

The first fatality in a car that is self-driving is tragic. Joshua Brown was an unlucky guinea pig, who was putting his full trust in his Tesla Model S’s Autopilot mode – an unfortunate mistake. Tesla have said that the driver must remain alert while trying out this mode. From news reports it appears he didn’t, as he was watching a Harry Potter movie while in the car. The Autopilot mode is still in beta but Tesla also claimed that it is “getting better all the time”.

It should have much fewer problems as time goes on when the mistakes and errors are rooted out of the software. And Tesla even went as far as saying that statistically speaking, if a driver remains alert and ready to grab the wheel, driving in Autopilot mode is still a good bit safer than regular driving.

Sadly, there will be more deaths caused by cars self-driving in the future. This particular instance is just a short-term setback for Tesla, and for the self-driving car industry as a whole. In the future the statistics may add up showing that cars in a self-driving mode still result in far fewer deaths or indeed accidents than cars with human drivers. I suppose one can’t help be sympathetic to peoples’ fears of cars being able to self-drive as a consequence of this accident. We clearly are in a transition period which may last many years, and every accident will keep people nervous about trusting self-driving cars. It may be a case of people needing to try them out to ease their nerves.

But frankly, given the amount of road accidents that lead to horrific injuries and deaths that could be preventable with future itineration’s of self-driving car software, it seems that the future of widespread self-driving cars is still sorely needed.

Picketty may Push Forward the Regulation of Capitalism

picketty

Thomas Picketty, a French economist who, as written in his highly-talked-about book ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ released in 2013, believes that wealth should be taxed in order to regulate capitalism, may live to see this desire happen, as the damaging aftermath of the HSBC scandal, Panama Papers and the clamp-down on corporate tax avoidance suggests. This could be only considered a good thing for everyday people, as taxes are a great way of funding a thriving society.

Picketty may be wrong, however, in suggesting that global growth is going to slow, thus allowing capital owners’ bank balance to rise in proportion to the incomes of normal tax payers. “Infra technological frontier” countries such as China, Nigeria, Indonesia and India may help keep global economic growth higher than the rate of return on capital. In 2013, the rate of return on capital was a bit above zero per cent (Picketty believes that in order for capital to create a more and more unequal society, the rate of return on capital needs to rise above 2.5 per cent).

It’s not unthinkable that the rate of return on capital may indeed go into negative territory. Also, it would seem to be the case that global convergence between Africa, China and India could take a century, or perhaps longer than that, to happen (global convergence would lead to lower growth rates and the rise in prominence of capital, which could send Europe and North America back to the nineteenth century in terms of economic equality). Indeed, the convergence may never happen as the economies of countries from North America, Asia and Africa will likely go up and down, such that convergence may always be out of their grasp.

The rise in prominence of Picketty and his ideas about taxing wealth signal that the push to increase Ireland’s corporation tax will only grow more aggressive as time goes on.

Brexit Will Have Painful Lessons

FT_Brexit_01

So the unthinkable happened: Brexit. It appears that the fear and accompanying hatred of immigrants and the promise of a better Britain overcame the fear of leaving the EU. For Ireland and Britain, other countries and the global economy this is most definitely bad news. It’s a cultural tragedy that Ireland and Britain will now not be as European as each other. This decision will cause a mini recession in Britain, quite probably.

It will have a negative effect on Ireland’s economy. Britain might become weaker economically and politically and very ironically have a big reliance on outside countries to help it limit the economic and political damage. The country may descend into right-wing politics before the younger generation – and disaffected citizens generally – decide to vote for left-wing parties.

Most likely it will be a lesson some of the British public will have to learn: Britain is stronger economically and politically in the EU. Another one would be to not let the media and politicians take advantage of you; be a critical thinker. The tabloid media generally were arguably the cheerleaders of Brexit for their own agenda of selling papers and perhaps for tax and lack-of-EU-oversight reasons. They possibly heightened British peoples’ fear of immigrants and some even explicitly came out in favour of Brexit. Even the rest of the media were somewhat complicit in allowing the “Leave” side to win by allowing the referendum debate to be centered on immigration and not arguing in favour of immigrants in terms of what they add to Britain.

And the politicians in favour of Brexit were conceivably more motivated by their own possible political gain in backing Brexit than they were motivated to do something good for their citizens. If the half of the British public led astray learn these lessons and decide, years from now, to rejoin the EU, it may be on the EU’S terms, as Britain would be in a weak bargaining position. They may have to join the euro, for instance. Perhaps then the British public will stop blaming the EU for its problems and instead reform its own country. Examples may be creating enough better-paying jobs, breaking up its banks to end “too big to fail” and improve service and reforming its political system.

Johnson, Farage and Gove, along with the tabloid media generally, may be detested in the years to come by the half of the public that was on their side (alongside the other half, of course). And the rest of the media may not be seen in a favourable light either.

Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland may soon seek to extricate themselves from the United Kingdom. This could deal more economic damage to England and Wales. Scotland leaving could hurt the Labour Party in Britain, as they derive a lot of their support from that country. And the Queen will not be amused to see her empire crumble. And maybe if what’s left of Britain declines economically some of the public may blame the immigrants who are already in the country for their woes once again.

But it may be all alright. The world moves on. We will all adapt.