The EU drew the wrath of Apple and Ireland this week with its case against the technology giant for €13 Billion.
“Overstepping its remit” is how Apple described it. This is the basis upon which Apple will challenge the EU ruling. Whether or not Apple wins is secondary, it is the size of the fine and the aggressive approach of the EU that has the global economy talking.
The EU is taking the lead in a looming global fight for money. With aging populations, the old taxation formulas are getting very, very tired. The US may have been highly critical of the EU decision on Apple, and took the unusual step of even warning it before the fine was announced but the US is simply likely to follow the EU in the long run. Additionally, the US Congress is now likely to speed up tax amnesties as a means of repatriating profits of US corporations before the EU gets to them.
But Apple aside, the EU has made a less publicized point which is the bloc is getting serious about its future.
UK politicians should take note.
As the UK Government prepares its exit strategy from the EU, it should take a cue from the Apple landmine detonating next door. The EU is serious about serious issues and the UK exit will be taken very seriously. Prime Minister May will have earned some brownie points at home and around her cabinet table with her ‘Brexit means Brexit’ declaration but this will have resonated across the EU where “no exceptions means no exceptions” philosophy will be rigorously defended on free movement of labour and market access.
Any short-term economic news coming out of the UK should not be interpreted in a ‘Brexit’ context. Nothing will be known until negotiations complete, are implemented and the dust settles. At this point, everything is speculation. Negotiations will mean negotiations. With so much at stake, there will be losers. This week, the EU raised its battle flag for all to see.
Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, the great 21st Century Trojan horses
Time waits for nobody, least of all those that squander an opportunity.
Eight years ago, Hillary Clinton discovered this to her peril when the upstart junior Senator from Illinois upstaged her with his silver tongue and slick fundraising. This time around, Hillary was taking no chances. Bernie Sanders, the populist Vermont Senator discovered as much.
By most measures, we should be preparing for the first Mrs. President since the foundation of the American Republic. It’s history for America but Mrs. Clinton, its justice! After all, she was the smarter of the Clinton duo all along.
Her opponent is everything but. A man that doesn’t know which way is up. Described by endless former associates as ‘delusional’, Mr. Trump had a good thing going…as long as he was talking to stupid people. He needed stupid people to buy into a stupid message and win the Republican ticket. He won the ticket and then, refused to turn off the stupid-message button.
Instead of pivoting his message for a wider audience, Trump continued on, like some bad comedian that turns up with one bad joke and keeps repeating it until the rotten tomatoes begin raining down.
Attacking hard-working Americans, parents of fallen soldiers, judges and even the American constitution, Trump proved how stupid he really was. Perhaps the best thing to come out of the entire Trump episode was that his ratings tumbled, proving yet again that democracy is powerful and the American electorate really is smart.
Lewandowski, Manafort and now, some other angry guy, Trump has gone busted flush with his endless management team shakeups and policy flip-flops. To top it all off, instead of softening his hate rhetoric, Trump is set to embrace it further; the action of a delusional stupid person.
In an incredible moment of candour, Trump has all but admitted defeat. But in true Trump silliness, he blames Hillary Clinton for his disastrous campaign management citing campaign fraud. What? A full three month BEFORE the election actually takes place, the election is rigged. Surely he means the polls since the election hasn’t taken place yet. Or, maybe Trump is a time traveller…it would explain that hair!
But if Trump is the stupidest candidate ever, it is the Republican Party that is just plain stupid. It has become the Stupid Party.
Ever since the Gingrich push in ’92, US Congress has slipped down a nasty slope of stupidity. Long gone are the days when elected politicians actually went to Washington to do their jobs. Instead, there has been an endless clamour to unearth the next nastiest gun-toting, bible-preaching, climate-change denier Tea Party preacher to emerge from the political wilderness of the traditional ‘red’ states. And this poison stew has finally cooked in the form of Mr. Trump.
Perhaps sensible Republicans will hasten the reorientation of their party, back to the basics, back to issues that really matter once they have digested their fill of Trump stew. Perhaps finally, the Trojan horse that is the Trump candidacy will end the decades of senseless Government shutdowns and legislative impasses orchestrated by irresponsible Republicans. Perhaps the party of Lincoln can become a functioning party again.
But Democrats also have a lot to answer for.
If Hillary Clinton does win in November then Democrats should be wary. After all, it was under the first Clinton Presidency that the all-important repeal of Glass-Steagall Act took place. That was the Act that had kept a tight control over US bank activity since the Great Depression. Repeal of the Act culminated in the near destruction of the global banking system in 2008.
It was also under the first Clinton Presidency that the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) became law.
Repeal of Glass–Steagall and enactment of NAFTA are at the root cause of voter anxiety across the US today. Mrs. Clinton needs to remember this if she goes on to occupy the White House. If she doesn’t, that anxiety will fester and grow. The big concern is next time around, instead of a stupid candidate in the form of Trump, we could face a much smarter one that actually goes on to win.
If Mrs. Clinton fails to address voter anxiety, she will herald a soul searching within the Democratic Party that will extend across its voter base. After all, the Sanders supporters have not gone away, they are still anxious, they are still passionate and they are still determined.
And, unless they are really stupid, the whole Trump experience is likely to herald reform within the Republican Party. Trump’s legacy, while not originating from the White House could be significant in the long term.
As for Mrs. Clinton, if she becomes a President with a deaf ear and short memory, she might well unlock a level of voter anger that could alienate Sanders supporters permanently and herald the rise of multi party options that gain traction across the US.
2016 might well become the Year of the Trojan horse.
The Bank of England today cut UK interest rates to a record low of .25%.
As concerns mount over the long term impact of the so-called Brexit vote – the decision to leave the EU, the BoE announced a range of measures to stimulate the UK economy. These include £60bn of UK government bond purchases as well as an extra £10bn set aside for the purchase of corporate bonds.
Of greatest concern is the Bank’s announcement of the biggest cut to its growth forecasts since 1992 – the year when the Bank began making growth forecasts.
The BoE reduced its growth forecast from robust 2.3% which it said it expected in May, before the Brexit vote to an anaemic 0.8%.
In a sign of how concerned BoE officials are, it is encouraging banks to keep lending with the announcement of a new Term Funding Scheme which will lend directly to banks at rates close to the new base rate of .25%.The scheme is designed to make sure that lower interest rates are passed on directly to businesses and households.
In a further measure designed to prop up the UK economy and protect against any further deterioration, the Bank will purchase up to £10bn of bonds issued by companies outside the financial sector. However, only companies considered to be ‘contributing to the UK economy’ will be eligible.