Tag Archives: John Redwood


The UK Treasury needs to wake up to the power of those US tax cuts

I read in the papers that the Treasury is busy scrambling around to find more taxes they can put up. If they stopped giving away so much of our money to the EU and   stopped trying to find ways to carry on giving away our money to the EU  they would not need to worry about where to find the cash. If they fully embraced the idea that lower tax rates often lead to higher revenues we could make more economic progress.

This week the Republicans at last rose to the challenge of tax cutting. They announced a blockbuster package. If it or something like it passes it will increase US growth materially, it will  be a boost to the whole world economy, and it will suck business into the USA from higher tax regimes elsewhere.

The  Bill includes slashing the Corporation tax rate from 35% to 20%, and to just 12% as a one off to get large US corporations to repatriate profits they have been holding offshore to avoid high rates. It gives a big boost to the average earner by cutting bands of Income tax from 7 to 4, and lowering the tax take on all but the richest. It is costed as providing a $1.5 trillion stimulus over ten years. In practice I suspect the proposals will collect rather more revenue than the conventional official models predict, but it will certainly be stimulatory in its impact.

We do not need at the same time a budget in the UK looking for new ways to tax small business with extra VAT or National Insurance. We can live without a tax attack on the self employed. We do not need further tax attacks on homeowners. We need to match the US approach and show some enthusiasm for lower tax rates. We need a more dynamic economy, collecting more revenue, which comes from fewer, simpler and lower tax rates.

So much of the UK economic establishment is dominated by endlessly repeating the arguments of the Brexit referendum for no good reason.  Instead they need to talk about tax cuts and tax reform, appropriate deficit levels and Central Bank policy. There is a danger the UK will be left behind by the boldness of the US approach. If they carry this package or something like it it will have an electrifying effect on the US economy.

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Meeting the Focus School

I went to visit The Focus School yesterday and spoke to the pupils about my work as an MP.

They showed me their projects on the Anglo Saxons which were impressive, and the School choir sang.

The School’s Inspection report is good. The pupils participated well in the lessons I saw, and their project work reflected the emphasis on individual learning with personal research and enquiry.

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What would a better Bank of England policy look like

The Bank and the FSA allowed far too large an expansion of credit and derivatives prior to 2007, as many pointed out at the time.

They then decided to crash the banking system by withdrawing liquidity and putting up rates, leading to the Great Recession.

Since then they have restricted banks in making new loans, and have sought to offset the negative effects of this on jobs and output by keeping interest rates near zero and creating money themselves which they inject by buying up state debt.

Savers suffer from the low rates, but benefit from the inflation of asset prices this causes. Credit is cheap from banks but rationed strictly. Alternative credit from shadow and non banking sources is quite expensive.

This is not a good model. Getting to a better one will take time and patience, but we need to sketch the direction of travel.

The first task is to wean us off QE, by setting out a programme to cancel the state debts the state  now owns and to cease reinvesting the income and capital proceeds from  the state owned  bond portfolio. We will then  see that UK state borrowing as defined by international standards is relatively modest at around 65% of GDP.

The second task is to allow the commercial banks to create a bit more credit to finance a bit higher rate of growth. This should be done by adjusting the macro prudential requirements now that the banks have much better capital and reserve ratios.

When better growth is restored then the Bank can gradually increase rates when the data justifies it.

The aim should be to end up with 2% inflation, growth at over 2% and a small real return for savers instead of a negative real return.

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Statement from South Western Railways on next week’s strikes

Today (Thursday) we met with the RMT and had hoped we could persuade them to suspend next week’s planned strike and allow the positive local talks we had been having to continue. We still believe that by continuing to engage with our local staff representatives we can find a way to work together and deliver the passenger benefits our new modern suburban fleet will bring when the trains enter service in late 2019. However, I am sorry to report that despite re-stating all our previous commitments – that we will have more jobs not less; that we plan to retain a second person on every train; and guaranteeing salaries and terms and conditions for Guards – the union executive is going ahead with these strikes which will damage both passengers and staff.

We will operate a contingency timetable on 8 and 9 November which see us run around two-thirds of our normal train service on those strike dates. Details of our contingency timetable can be found on our website https://www.southwesternrailway.com/plan-my-journey/rmt-strike

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The Bank of England twists and turns

I thought the interest rate cut some weeks after the Brexit vote was needless last summer. The economy was speeding up at the time, credit growth was lively, house prices and home building were on the up, new cars sales growing strongly and unemployment coming down. The Bank had all the wrong forecasts , arguing that unemployment would rise, jobs would fall, house prices would fall and confidence would crash.  Instead of looking at the data the Bank trusted its own wrong forecasts and cut rates!

Yesterday the Bank did the opposite. The data shows house prices slowing, car sales falling, credit growth slowing and money growth retreating. The Bank should know that because it has deliberately brought it about by ordering a credit tightening under its macro prudential powers.  The latest retail sales figures, growth figures and house prices figures are showing much slower rates of growth than in the summer of 2016. So what does the Bank do? It puts rates up!

Its argument is s sloppy one. It says we are getting close to capacity, and cites the fall in unemployment. This it says requires a rate rise to bring inflation back to target though it has previously always said the inflation spike this autumn is a one off which will subside.

It is odd that the MPC in its explanation of the economy refers to Brexit several times and makes no reference to the Bank’s own monetary tightening, reduction of credit growth and tax attacks on housing and cars by the government. The Bank seems to have lost its impartial interest in the figures and gained an unhealthy wish to blame Brexit for anything adverse. If Brexit is such an all pervasive influence why doesn’t it get the credit for the strong jobs growth, the rise in housebuilding and the strong manufacturing performance over the last year?

If you look at a graph of car sales they rise strongly up to March 2017, with no effect from the vote or the Article 50 letter but a big effect from the budget and government statements on diesels. If you look at a graph of BTL investment you see it takes big hit in April 2016 before the vote when the government introduced big tax rises. I suggest people look at the evidence instead of trotting out alleged Brexit effects for bad news, and saying despite Brexit for good news.

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