thenextwave

Some things I learned from GE2017 [1 of 2]

Posted in politics by thenextwavefutures on 12 June, 2017

Obviously the dust is still swirling around the election, since it has thrown up more questions than answers. And we’re still waiting for some of the actual election data about turnout and so on. But there are some initial conclusions that can be drawn. This is the first of two posts, since I tried to write it as one post and it got far too long.
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Apple’s Irish problem and the end of the tech boom

Posted in economics, innovation, long waves, technology by thenextwavefutures on 5 September, 2016
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Source: European Commission

The EU’s ruling on Apple’s Irish tax affairs is a sign of two different sets of change: the ending of the ICT boom, and the decline of globalisation

Silicon Valley seems surprised, and not for the first time, by the fact that the European Union has a different view of its business practices than it does. Apple is perplexed (even maddened) by the decision of the EU’s Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, that it should pay the same rate of corporation tax as other companies doing business in Ireland–and that it therefore owed €13 billion, perhaps more, in back taxes. Bloomberg explains the issue well.

Google, similarly, has been perplexed by the three separate anti-trust suits that the EU has filed against it. One relates to its advertising business; a second to its shopping service; the third is about whether Google has been giving preferential treatment to both Search and Chrome in its Android operating system.

So what’s going on here? Two separate things: first, it’s about the coming end of the ICT boom that has dominated innovation and culture since the mid-1970s; second, it’s about the limits of corporate power and influence as economic globalisation declines.

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The EU referendum and the England problem

Posted in politics, Uncategorized by thenextwavefutures on 22 June, 2016

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The left case for Brexit, or so called Lexit, has been well articulated during the referendum by Tariq Ali, John Hilary, and others. Paul Mason made it in one column, then rowed back again in another. A number of notable Greens have been leavers: Rupert Read, who changed his mind, and Jenny Jones, who made her case in the Guardian.

In the most recent edition of New Left Review, Susan Watkins summarised this case succinctly:

[A] vote to remain, whatever its motivation, will function in this context as a vote for a British establishment that has long channelled Washington’s demands into the Brussels negotiating chambers, scotching hopes for a ‘social Europe’ since the Single European Act of 1986… A Leave vote… would not bring about a new golden age of national sovereignty… But the knock-on effects of a leave vote could be largely positive: disarray, and probably a split, in the Conservative Party; preparations in Scotland for a new independence ballot.

And God knows, it’s hard to hold progressive views and not have one of Polly Toynbee’s famous clothes pegs over your nose as you approach the EU. [Update: Or to vote Remain through gritted teeth.] Peter Mair’s argument that the EU has the form of a democratic organisation but none of the substance is hard to argue with. The Lisbon Treaty, with all of the shenanigans involved, shifted the centre of gravity of the EU sharply towards neoliberalism and away from the social market; Germany’s imposition of ordoliberalism on the Eurozone and the brutal bullying of Greece was plain ugly.

The notion that the EU “needs to be taught a lesson”, put to me last week in a bar in France by a woman who said she’d vote Leave if she was British, has an obvious attraction.

But there’s something deeper going on, and that’s why I think that progressives have to vote Remain despite the EU’s evident problems.

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Re-visiting Ireland’s boom years

Posted in Uncategorized by thenextwavefutures on 10 April, 2011

The lesson from Ireland’s boom and bust: don’t confuse economic rhetoric with long-run structural and external change

I wrote about the disaster that is the Irish economy about eighteen months ago, just after Fianna Fáil government, true to form, had bought up bad property assets from its crony capitalists on unduly generous terms. I was revisiting the Irish economic miracle ahead of a workshop in Dublin this week, and found an interesting structural explanation of the Celtic Tiger boom in Fintan O’Toole’s book Ship of Fools. It’s not the explanation of “business friendly” policy, low tax and light regulation that’s normally offered, and it has implications that go beyond Ireland.

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