A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘united kingdom

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • Apostrophen’s ‘Nathan Smith writes about Christmas cards and memory.
  • blogTO notes the impending expansion of the Drake Hotel.
  • The Broadside Blog describes a documentary, The Eagle Huntress, about a Mongolian teenage girl who becomes a hunter using eagles, that sounds spectacular.
  • Crooked Timber asks readers to help a teenager who has been arrested by the LAPD.
  • Dangerous Minds notes some weird monsters from Japanese folklore.
  • The Dragon’s Tales suggests that the Hellas basin hides the remnants of its ocean.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes the finding that Russia was trying to get Trump elected.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy considers the issue of hate speech and immigration.
  • Window on Eurasia quotes a former Ukrainian president who argues Russia does not want to restore the Soviet Union so much as it wants to dominate others.
  • The Yorkshire Ranter notes how the Daily Telegraph is recommending its readers use tax shelters.
  • Arnold Zwicky looks at the language of side-eye and stink-eye.

[LINK] “U.K.’s Lingering `Lost Decade’ Pushes Carney Into Marx’s Arms”

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Bloomberg’s Lucy Meakin notes Bank of England governor Mark Carney’s speech warning of political tumult ahead, a consequence of a bad decade for wage increases.

The mid-19th century was a period of social and political upheaval in the U.K. economy that saw an international financial crisis and technological revolution. Sound familiar? Mark Carney thinks so.

The Bank of England governor described the economy as experiencing its “first lost decade since the 1860s” in a speech this week. Citing wage growth that’s at its slowest since that period, he said globalization for some has come to be associated with low pay, job insecurity and inequality.

“Substitute Northern Rock for Overend Gurney; Uber and machine learning for the Spinning Jenny and the steam engine; and Twitter for the telegraph; and you have the dynamics that echo those of 150 years ago,” he said.

Not even the Great Depression or two world wars produced a period of falling real wages like the present one, BOE data show.

[. . .]

Carney noted in his speech that the economic upheavals of the mid-19th century produced Karl Marx, who argued that the only way for workers to throw off the yoke of wage labor is revolution. Carney said the key is to redistribute the benefits of globalization and do more to ensure workers have the right skills to thrive.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 8, 2016 at 6:00 pm

[ISL] “Iceland vs. Iceland: British food chain looks to thaw trademark feud”

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The Globe and Mail carried James Davey’s Reuters report noting the conflict between the country of Iceland and the British-based food retailer of the same name. I have to admit to being surprised, still, that the name of a country could have been so appropriated by an unrelated business.

British supermarket chain Iceland Foods is sending a delegation to “The Land of Fire and Ice” in an effort to resolve a legal dispute over the trademark registration of the word “Iceland”.

Iceland Foods, whose 22,000 employees would be equivalent to almost 7 per cent of Iceland the country’s population, said it was urgently seeking a meeting after the north Atlantic island said last week it had taken legal action against the retailer.

Reykjavik said Iceland Food’s Europe-wide registration had often left Icelandic firms unable to describe their products as Icelandic and it had asked the European Union Intellectual Property Office (EU-IPO) to invalidate it.

Iceland Foods said on Tuesday it wanted “to lay out constructive proposals for resumption of the peaceful co-existence between the company and country that had prevailed for the previous 46 years.”

The supermarket, which is best known for its frozen foods, said it had a long history of friendly relations with Iceland, which lies about 800 km (500 miles) northwest of Scotland and has a population of 329,100.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 8, 2016 at 5:30 pm

[LINK] “British Villagers Are Baffled by Flocking Chinese Tourists”

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In The New York Times, Dan Bilefsky describes why so many Chinese tourists are paying attention to the otherwise unremarkable British village of Kidlington.

One explanation holds that guides started using Kidlington as a drop-off point for tourists who declined to pay $68 for a Chinese language tour of the palace. Credit Elizabeth Dalziel for The New York Times

Sun Jianfeng, a 48-year-old tour guide with Beijing Hua Yuan International Travel, said guides were routinely depositing in Kidlington tourists who did not want to pay an extra $68 for an optional Chinese language tour of nearby Blenheim Palace, Winston Churchill’s majestic ancestral home.

He added that some wily tourists had figured out that buying tickets at the palace would cost only about $25, and were secretly sneaking there on foot, irking other tourists, who had already paid full price. As a result, he said, those who opted out of the Blenheim tour were being dropped in Kidlington, which is not within walking distance.

Mr. Sun said Kidlington was also a convenient stop on the way to Bicester Village, a must-go discount luxury retail destination for Chinese shoppers. The Chinese are big spenders, and European countries compete hard for their business.

Mr. Sun stressed that the Kidlington phenomenon was also an outgrowth of modern China and globalization. Many tourists are a part of China’s rapidly growing middle class, many of whom live in anonymous concrete tower blocks in huge cities, he said. They are enchanted by the village’s tranquillity and intrigued by daily life in the English countryside.

“The environment in the countryside in China isn’t so great,” he said, noting that it could be run-down and gritty compared with England’s typically bucolic atmosphere. “In Kidlington, the environment is great. You see farm fields and ranches here. Also, many newly built houses here have brick or brick-and-wood structures, which you no longer see very often in urban China.”

Written by Randy McDonald

December 7, 2016 at 8:30 pm

[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Beyond the Beyond’s Bruce Sterling looks at the art scene in Istanbul.
  • Crooked Timber takes issue with Tyler Cowen’s support for school vouchers.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes signs that the ephemeral Martian lakes were temporary creations of methane outbursts, and considers how to use WISE to hunt for Planet Nine.
  • Far Outliers looks at Britain’s contracts with petty German states for soldiers.
  • The Frailest Thing’s Michael Sacasas looks at Trump in the context of the conflict between orality and literacy.
  • Lawyers, Guns and Money notes Donald Trump’s complication of the United States’ China policy and reports that Seattle’s new minimum wage has apparently not led to job loss.
  • The LRB Blog reports on The Gambia on the eve of the elections.
  • Marginal Revolution notes that truth is essential for liberty and freedom.
  • From the Heart of Europe’s Nicholas Whyte looks at the strange history of an enclave on the border of Belfast.
  • pollotenchegg maps language in Ukraine.
  • Savage Minds announces that the blog will seek a new name, and that they are looking for suggestions.
  • Window on Eurasia notes that Russia’s fertility uptick will not alter the dynamics of population loss, and reports on a Russian radical’s astonishing suggestion that Russia is now in the same position versus Ukraine as Nazi Germany was versus Poland.

[LINK] “The U.K.’s Industrial Policy Is Bound to Backfire”

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Victoria Bateman’s Bloomberg View article arguing that the post-Brexit United Kingdom’s proposed economic policies aren’t likely to work out well, at all, feels plausible.

Industrial Strategy is making a comeback. One of Theresa May’s first acts as prime minister was to create a new “Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.” That may sound impressive, but history is littered with equally well-intentioned but unsuccessful industrial strategies. For every case of success one can find more than one case of failure.

Previous attempts at industrial strategy in Britain include disastrous interventions during the 1920s and 1930s. An “Industrial Transference Scheme,” aimed at moving unemployed industrial workers to new jobs in expanding regions. Other policies sought to encourage mergers to help “rationalize” industry and exploit economies of scale, all with the aim of catching-up with the U.S. From 1932, a 10 percent general tariff on imports (later raised to 20 percent) was imposed. The policies arguably provided some short-term relief, but they stored up competitiveness problems for the future.

New interventions followed World War II: more state-supported mergers in everything from shipbuilding to computing, industrial subsidies, a public campaign to “buy British”, a policy to create “national champions” and nationalization. The result was a 50 percent Anglo-German productivity gap and a rapid decline in Britain’s share of world manufacturing exports to 9 percent by 1973 from 25 percent in 1950. By the end of the 1970s, a shakeout of inefficient resources was required, one which set the stage for Margaret Thatcher’s showdown with the trade unions.

Most if not all of these past strategies would today run afoul of the European Union’s state aid rules or the World Trade Organization’s Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures. Subtler tools, however, remain, including support for research and development and support for companies in declining regions, policies that most economists feel are justified by “market failures.” But what is often forgotten is that a similar defense was used in the past to justify all other kinds of interventions. Getting it right is no easier today.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 3, 2016 at 9:40 pm

[LINK] “The day after Brexit”

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John Quiggin’s Crooked Timber post imagining likely outcomes for the post-Brexit United Kingdom feels depressingly possible. The discussion is largely good, too.

I’m finding it hard to see that anything will happen to justify the massive effort involved. The Poles and other EU citizens whose presence was the biggest single justification for Brexit won’t go away. On the contrary, it seems pretty clear that all EU citizens will get permanent residence, even those who arrived after the Brexit vote. Even with a hard Brexit, the benefits of consistency with EU regulations will be overwhelming. The terms of any trade deal with non-EU countries won’t be any better than the existing EU deals and probably worse.

Even symbolically, what’s going to happen? Typically, national independence is marked by a ceremony where the flag of the imperial power is lowered, and the new national flag is raised. But, from what I can tell, the EU flag is hardly ever flown in the UK as it is. The same for national currency, passport, official languages and all the other symbolic representations of nationhood.

So, after a successful Brexit, Britain will be a little poorer and more isolated than before, but otherwise largely unchanged. Will that count as success in the eyes of those who voted to Leave. I don’t know. Maybe those closer to the action could comment.

Written by Randy McDonald

December 3, 2016 at 9:20 pm