Date: Monday 10 May 2010
Time: 12:45pm - 02:15pm
Title: Regulation after the Crisis
Hector Sants was appointed FSA Chief Executive in July 2007. He joined the FSA in May 2004 as Managing Director, Wholesale and Institutional Markets at the Financial Services Authority. Hector had responsibility for all regulated markets, the related infrastructure such as clearing and settlement, the operation of the UK Listing rules and regulation of firms or groups which conduct primarily wholesale or institutional market business between professionals.
Hector joined the FSA from Credit Suisse First Boston where he was Chief Executive Officer of Europe, Middle East and Africa and has extensive experience of the wholesale markets both in the UK and internationally. He joined CSFB in 2000 when the firm merged with Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette and was a member of CSFB's Executive Board. He was a member of the Financial Services Practitioner Panel and was previously a Board member of, among other bodies, the SFA and the London Stock Exchange.
All power lunches take place from 12.45-2.15pm in our offices at 23 Great Smith Street, Westminster. These events are by invitation only, but if you are interested in attending please contact Philip at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7222 4995.
Date: Tuesday 4 May 2010
Time: 06:00pm - 08:00pm
Title: How to be right about everything
Location: The Phoenix, 14 Palace Street, Victoria
The Spectator and Telegraph columnist James Delingpole gave a solid defence of classical liberalism at the ASI's The Next Generation event on Tuesday 4th May. He explained why it was so difficult to be a classical liberal - its firm roots in empiricism and the realities of human nature do not often arouse great enthusiasm. Its policies and positions must constantly be explained and justified, relying on the audience's commitment to reason and logic. A big ask.
To be on the left on the other hand is simple. Not only have they won the culture wars as Gramsci had hoped and advocated, but to take on an air of moral superiority is both thoughtless and effortless - it is the easiest thing in the world to be committed to reducing global warming, poverty and inequality. Actually acting on those commitments is something entirely different, and could be done to the detriment of all in a spurt of destructive moralising zeal.
Despite the numerous advantages of the left, classical liberalism is fundamentally 'sound' due to its basis in reality rather than wishful thinking. It will prevail so long as we keep on justifying our positions sensibly and with the use of reason. Delingpole's speech ended in a call to arms - it was for us to continue a fight with the odds stacked against us - whilst being a classical liberal may be difficult, we gain all the more from the tools of empiricism and realism at our disposal. In short: classical liberals are always right, and should remember it.
Date: Wednesday 21 April 2010
Time: 12:45pm - 02:15pm
Title: Water Regulation – Ofwat’s Strategic Approach
Philip Fletcher, Chairman of the water regulator Ofwat, was our guestat a Power Lunch in Westminster yesterday, and chose as his theme to talk about Ofwat's strategic view of the water industry.
There are certainly some big challenges. £80 billion of new investment since privatization has led to a third less loss from leakages and burst pipes, and higher standards which are very nearly 100% effective. But there are mounting problems in terms of the resource itself. A rapidly growing population, particularly in the South East of England, has led to over-abstraction of water – while some places, Wales and the North-West, for example, have the stuff in abundance. If the climate change view is correct, we could be facing more floods, but also more droughts too, putting even more pressure on some places. But we still have ten regional (regulated) monopolies who have very little incentive to move water from where it is plentiful to a neighbouring region where it is scarce. This strikes me as an obvious job for markets. in the Western United States, where water resources are scarce and dry years make them even scarcer, markets have sprung up to shift the stuff to where it is most urgently needed. Why not here too? We need to put a price on water itself – a price to create market signals to shift the raw resource around. At present, water firms pay for abstraction licences, but the price is related more to the administrative costs than any notion of scarcity.
To its credit, Ofwat has been thinking about getting more market thinking into the water business, as evidenced in its report on sustainability last month. But inevitably there are political issues. Market economists might say that people in areas of scarcity should simply pay higher bills, and people in areas of abundance pay less. But there are many poor families in the shortage areas, and many of those are large families who use a lot of water. So there are social issues to deal with. And people still seem to assume that water should be free because it falls out of the sky – ignoring all the treatment and delivery and wastewater removal and treatment costs – so, like road pricing, they don't relish the thought of paying, or paying more, for something that they have long regarded as free. If the pressures of population, climate and the rest are real, though, the long-term future must be obvious. We need more markets in water.