Friday, July 20, 2012

New Labour, new sellout

If you wanted any further confirmation of where New Labour took us, this news item (Former Labour Minister walked through revolving door to Olympic shambles firm G4S) should do the trick. Not only did John Reid defy any form of political ethics by running the Home Office and then taking up a directorship with a company that makes money out of contracts with the Home Office, but that company was G4S, whose level of incompetence rivals that shown by Reid as Health Minister when he gave British doctors a pay rise way higher than they had dared hope for. As a Director of G4S, Reid is presumably playing a role in extending the private security firm's feckless grip over more and more government functions which it performs inefficiently but profitably.

If there is anything in there which sounds at all principled or related however tangentially with the Labour and socialist tradition, then it is very well hidden. New Labour did a lot of good, but in the end it embraced, enhanced and entrenched the cynical money-grabbing culture left behind by the Thatcher and Major governments. What a missed opportunity.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Not dunblogging yet

Lack of recent posts not down to their being a lack of things to talk about - unfortunately - but because of a paper I needed to finish. And here it is:

Liberalization within Diversity: Welfare and Labour Market Reforms in Italy and the UK

Elisabetta Gualmini and Jonathan Hopkin


Are advanced democracies converging on a liberalized economic model, revolving around increasing penetration of markets and the decline of egalitarian institutions (Baccaro and Howell 2011)? An extensive literature has examined institutional change in the advanced industrialized economics, examining the impact of Europeanization, globalization and other structural economic changes on the different models of welfare capitalism found in the OECD countries. This debate has tended to polarize between proponents of convergence, who argue that common pressures push advanced democracies to adopt similar policies and institutions, and scholars who emphasize of the resilience of the distinct models of welfare capitalism that evolved in the industrial age, although some recent scholarship seeks to bridge this divide. At the same time, there is increasingly firm evidence that the distribution of income in advanced democracies is becoming more unequal, sparking a lively debate on how inequality can be measured and explained (OECD 2011).

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Diamond geezer

Bad news for Bob Diamond (E-petition for public inquiry into bankers’ misdeeds « Debtonation: The Global Financial Crisis).

One of the big advantages of the banking fraternity is that the top bananas are largely unknown to the public, so that their misdeeds are rarely presented to the public in personalized terms (unlike politicians). There is huge public anger towards banks and bankers, but no obvious faces to plaster over the front pages for the baying mob to rage at.

Until now. Well, to be fair, Fred 'the Shred' Goodwin took the flak for a few months, if you can call a lost knighthood, a broken window, and a multi-million pound pension 'flak'. But then, nothing until the Libor scam produced Barclays and its egocentric CEO as main villains. Sacrificing Bob Diamond will probably have no material effect on the way banking works in this country, but at least one of the smuggest faces of  extractive finance would lose its grin.

The key point about Diamond is that he is either complicit in financial corruption, or he is a hopeless manager. What, after all, is the £17 million salary for, if the man can't prevent his own employees from running up £290 million fine? But he has also made the key mistake of attracting attention to himself, probably out of sheer vanity. He'll therefore have to take the rap at some point.

A footballing lesson

So Spain triumph again.

Not just triumph, but crush an Italian side that in turn had crushed the fancied Germans the other side. Maybe a game too far for the azzurri, they looked tired and barely got into the game. But how on earth do you play against this team?

And team is the operative word. Great international sides of the past have often been associated with one great player: Pelé's Brazil, Maradona's Argentina, Cruyff's Holland, Zidane's France and so on. And sure, Xavi and Iniesta have stood out in particular. But what is striking about Spain is that they could probably put out two elevens that would give any other team a game. Villa breaks a leg? Never mind, there is Jordi Alba. Torres is out of form? Who cares, we'll just play 8 attacking midfielders and let Fabregas and Silva score the goals. Puyol injured? No worries, play Arbeloa alongside Piqué and Ramos. If Casillas ever got hurt, you would get Pepe Reina, maybe the best keeper in the Premiership. Arsenal's Arteta doesn't even make the squad. In the end, Italy's players expended so many resources to get to the final they had little energy left, Spain could rotate and give key players a break without missing a kick.

God knows what would have happened had England encountered this team.