Recently in Economics Category
The comments that are believed to be contained in a report to be published this week by the prime minister's aide of enterprise Lord Young have excited some controversy.
For example, he has commented that if you are in business and your competitors go bankrupt (he used the expression "fall by the wayside"), it allows those businesses who are efficient to increase their market share.
Many might believe that this is simply commonsense.
Let's face it if you can incubate an idea and make it work in the current economic environment then it should be in good shape when the climate becomes more benign.
However, some have seized on Lord Young's comments as being indicative of a culture in which it becomes acceptable to exploit those who are weakest. He has stated his belief that if "factors of production" become cheaper this will allow a greater return on investment.
As critics point out, business failures result in job losses which bring misery. Additionally they stress that the factors of production which become cheaper will include wages paid to workers which will have a knock-on effect in terms of standards of living.
David Bowie is undergoing something of a renaissance caused by the fact that there is an exhibition of his stage outfits at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London for which tickets are like 'gold dust'.
For those not able to get a ticket you can always listen to his back catalogue especially his hugely influential 1972 album The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars which includes the opening track 'Five Years'.
'Five Years' is a typical Bowie ballad in which there is a suggestion that within this period the earth would be doomed to destruction.
Given that Britain was at that time in a pretty dystopian state with industrial conflict and an existential threat from nuclear war with the Soviet Union there may have been many who would have agreed with the sentiments of 'Five Years'.
It is just over five years since the beginnings of the global financial crisis and, coincidentally, that is the maximum period of an English Parliament. As we know, the impact of the crisis are still very apparent it would seem that we are not yet at the point at which our economy can be considered to have fully recovered.
Last Thursday's local elections provide an early, though I accept, limited snapshot of the way that the main parties will performs and much analysis will be made of the economic policies offered by each of the main parties (which may now include UKIP) for ensuring consistent growth. And they will all be considering development of economic strategies for the five years following the next general election.
The thing is, our current situation does not give allow us to be tremendously optimistic.
I'm just old enough to remember the impact that George Best had on the game of football in Britain in the late 1960s.
Though Best was seen as possessing sublime talent, his showmanship and desire to engage in a hedonistic lifestyle was seen as not right. Football had typically been viewed as a game largely watched by the working class who supported local teams consisting of players who came from the community.
Best, a Belfast lad, though not exceptional in coming from outside the area, was a prototype celebrity footballer; he was sometimes referred to as 'the fifth Beatle'.
As many recognised, British football was changing. Earlier in the decade, January 18th 1961 to be exact, the maximum wage of £20 a week had been abolished. As many have since argued, this was the start of British football - and especially players - losing touch with its fans.
In 1961 the average weekly wage was £17. Though wages earned by footballers steadily increased after the abolition of the maximum wage, Sky TV's decision in 1992 to televise games vastly accelerated the earning power all footballers; particularly those in the Premier League who now typically earn over £35,000 a week.
Football became a game in which ever-increasing amounts of money was invested into securing the best players to ensure an ability to achieve continued success. This means that more and more money needs to be raised in order to pay higher and higher wages.
The consequence has been that now very few teams can effectively compete to win the Premiership.
There is an adage which says that you can make a small fortune in football; provided you start with a large fortune.
This is not untended to be a rhetorical question and is borne out of last week's news that an economic model which has been used as the basis for deficit reduction has been shown to have been based on spurious data and calculations.
This model, based on the work of Harvard Professors Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Roghoff (who used to be the Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund), was believed to demonstrate that once public debt exceeds 90% of GDP any growth slows down dramatically.
For those who wish to impose austerity as the justification for cutting public expenditure Reinhart and Roghoff's research was academic validation. Who could argue with a model that was based on sound logic and valid data.
In their 2009 book This Time It's Different (published by Princeton University Press) drew upon extensive historical research to prove the fallacy of increased borrowing.
And so the debate over Margaret Thatcher's economic legacy continues.
The debate about the change she created will continue and historians will present their considered views about long-term effects.
What is a fact is that she was prime minister in October 1986 when so called 'Big Bang' occurred; the deregulation of the financial markets operating in the City of London.
It is worth stating that Mrs. Thatcher and her government's desire to deregulate the City of London institutions was borne of a belief that they would be able to operate more competitively against other world centres of finance - most especially New York - which enjoyed much greater freedom.
As many commentators have argued in recent days, this very deregulation set in motion the circumstances that led to the financial crisis more commonly known as the 'Credit Crunch'.
The recent death of Margaret Thatcher has provided an opportunity for historians to engage in reanalysis of the period leading up to her election as Prime Minister in 1979.
For many the election of Thatcher at the end of the decade heralded an end to what some saw as a dark period of industrial strife and, as many on the right believed, an urgent need for militant unions to be dealt with and for managers in British industry to reassert their authority.
When the TV series Life on Mars, which was set in the early 1970s, first appeared on television one critic commentated that Britain was made to look like it was a different country in which the landscape was characterised by decaying factories and a sense of gloom.
British industry was seen to be in a spiral of decline and none more so than the many once great and proud names of motor manufacturing such as Austin, Morris, Jaguar and Land Rover that were now operating under the brand of British Leyland.
British Leyland which had been formed in 1968 had been intended to herald a new era of mass car production in Britain though financial problems meant that it had to be partly nationalised.
If any company needed urgent reform when Mrs Thatcher took office in May 1979 it was British Leyland which had become infamous for the recent history of industrial conflict and the belief that when cars were actually being produced they weren't terribly good.
Something had to change.
Any temptation to celebrate the EU/IMF bailout of Cyprus and that the dream of a 'United States of Europe' continues will have been tempered by the fact that this deal is not one that will be good for anyone in particular; least of all Cypriots who can look forward to rising unemployment - already running at 15% - resulting from continued business closures and economic uncertainty.
It looks pretty grim.
The fact that banks have not been able to re-open, that one of the two major banks, Laiki, will be shut down, capital controls introduced, limits on cash withdrawals and bans on cashing cheques and the use of some debit and credit adds to a belief that the crisis is far from over.
The question which might be asked about the economic crisis affecting Cyprus is why is there such a fuss?
After all, with a population of 850,000 and an economy which is worth just 0.2% of the total GDP for the EU of €12 trillion, it might seem insignificant.
As one eminent economics commentator has noted, China achieves a comparable rate of growth to Cyprus' rate in just a week.
The original dream of a 'United States of Europe' would have suggested that the amount of money to sort Cyprus' problems would be freely available.
The amount that Cyprus is required to raise, €5.8 billion, in order to qualify for the €10 billion bailout so as not to become bankrupt, seems small when compared to what has been already been given to other European countries in recent years.
So what makes Cyprus different?
In today's budget Chancellor George Osborne will apparently announce an additional £2.5 billion spending on infrastructure projects.
However, the money that be used will have to come from other Whitehall departments which will be required to reduce their budgets by 2% over the next two years only health, education and Revenue and Customs being exceptions.
However, as equity investor Jon Moulton of Better Capital stated on last night's Newsnight £2.5 billion additional spending over two years represents just three days borrowing and is not enough to make any significant difference.
The belief that spending on construction infrastructure projects will provide some alleviation from the continuing economic gloom is gaining currency across the political spectrum.
For example, in an article in Sunday's Observer shadow chancellor Ed Balls and Labour MP Jack Dromey criticise what they see as the current government's inability to stimulate economic recovery through the housebuilding sector:
"The coalition government's commitment to talking about getting Britain building can hardly be denied but its success in delivery has been nothing short of disastrous."
Most particularly, Balls and Dromey cite the fact that despite three major initiatives announced by the current government, house completions are at their lowest level in peacetime since the 1920s.
Monday's announcement by David Cameron that apprenticeships should become the norm for school leavers is welcome news.
On a visit to a training academy in Buckinghamshire to launch National Apprenticeship Week the Prime Minister acknowledged the fact that as well as being good for individuals who undertake apprenticeships - usually though not exclusively young people who have just left school - they are good for business.
As part of an effort to 'rebalance the economy', i.e. create a shift away from our dependence on financial services, apprenticeships in all sectors of industry though most especially engineering, will assist in the quest to reduce the deficit caused by the financial crisis of five years ago.
According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) the number of apprenticeships could almost double by 2022 from the current total of 260,000 to almost half a million.
Significantly according to the CEBR the impact of an apprentice who has completed can increase business productivity, in the case of engineering to over £400 per week, and improve profits.
So in supporting apprenticeships David Cameron will have been well aware of the prediction by CEBR that by 2022 they could be contributing £3.4 billion per year to the economy.
Whilst it is easy to pronounce that we need to have more apprenticeships there is a need to better appreciate what this really means in 21st century Britain and, more particularly, what they should consist of?