Greek Deficit and Tax Evasion

One issue that keeps coming up around the Greek crisis is the degree of tax evasion. In the slide below I report the average Greek budget deficit per year on a decade by decade basis since the 1960s (figures on the left – calculated from OECD figures in an excellent paper you can find here). Continue reading

Theresa May: déjà vu all over again

[I appeared briefly on Newsnight commenting on this – the item is about 20 mins in].

A British Home Secretary faces a media firestorm over a major blunder in one of the Home Office’s Executive Agencies. A senior agency official is blamed to shift attention away from Ministers. He resigns and hits back, hard and sues the Home Office and wins.

Theresa May (Home Secretary) and  Brodie Clarke (UK Borders Agency)? Well yes, but it could also be Michael Howard (Home Secretary) and Derek Lewis (Director General of the Prison Service) back in 1995. Continue reading

My Big Fat Greek Government?

The Greek crisis has given neo-liberals a a great opportunity to criticize ‘big government’ Hellenic style – they see the problem as a Big Fat Greek Government (apologies to the film of nearly that name). But as usual the truth about Greece’s problems are rather more complex – what Greece needs is not less Government, but better Government. Continue reading

There’s No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, or a Free Market

My recent post suggesting three simple reforms to financial markets provoked a bit of a squall on Twitter. The Free Market Fundamentalist Tendency especially seemed incensed that any restrictions on markets was a good idea.

Most of the criticisms were either simply abusive – such as that I’m “bonkers” – or ideological rants with little substance. But a few were at least thoughtful attempts to refute or critique what I had suggested. Chief amongst the latter was an extended critique by Christie Malry. Continue reading

Three ‘Simples’ Principles for Controlling Run-Away Finance?

I have been thinking about what sort of moral principles ought to apply to finance, including banking. The sort of thing I’ve been thinking about are some fairly simple things that would appear obvious to most of us, but apparently don’t apply to the world of finance.

Today I heard a Lib Dem MEP say something to the effect of “what are we going to do, stop the markets from doing certain things”? Well, er, yes. We stop ‘the markets’ from trading in human body parts, or in whole humans for that matter. We don’t allow them to freely trade nuclear weapons, or other WMDs. In other words there are all sorts of moral and practical restrictions placed upon the markets, for our own protection. After the gigantic and still unfolding damage unrestricted financial markets have managed to inflict, isn’t it time to consider what they should not be being allowed to do? Continue reading

The ‘Managerial Revolution’ is Over: They Won?

“Income Data Services, which totted up pay, bonuses and various share awards, says the average FTSE 100 executive director pocketed a 49 per cent rise in the last financial year to bring their remuneration to £2.7m a year. Chief executives had to make do with a 43 per cent rise, poor lambs.”

James Moore, The Independent, 28 Oct 2011.

This week I was teaching one of my MBA classes about ‘power in and around organizations’, which was also the title of a book written by the academic Henry Mintzberg back in 1983. Thirty years ago Mintzberg concluded that most of the evidence suggested that the power of senior management within corporations has massively expanded and that it was now they, rather than the technical owners – i.e. shareholders – who really controlled the organizations. Continue reading