As Britain prepares to re-negotiate its position in the European Union, with the possibility of a full withdrawal if negotiations are unsuccessful, we outline some of the key points for negotiators to focus on. Paradoxically, the UK might well end up with a better deal if it is willing to contemplate life ‘out’, as EU negotiators are likely to stick to their guns if the UK is determined to stay ‘in’.
The Vickers Commission got it wrong, says Miles Saltiel. By focusing on linkages between retail and investment banks, it missed the real causes of the 2008 financial crisis and an opportunity to fix the problems in the financial sector. Rather than giving increased competition the lowest priority, as the Commission has, increasing competition in the banking sector should be the main goal in the government's banking policy.
This paper, which analyzes World Health Organization data, suggests that the NHS fails to distinguish itself on either health outcomes or value for money – when ranked against similar countries, the UK is in the lower half of both league tables. Even more depressing are the findings of the annual Euro-Canada Health Consumer Index, which ranks the UK 15th out of 18 Western European countries in terms of healthcare performance from the perspective of the consumer. Such findings surely make it hard to keep insisting that the NHS is ‘the envy of the world’.
The Forestry Commission has failed in its duties, and the government is right to sell off some of its holdings. This report argues that the government could sell off 92% of the Commission's holdings without affecting the broadleaf forests that the public values for their amenity and scenery. Doing this could raise up to £4.3bn, and end the woeful mismanagement of the country's woodland that the Forestry Commission has delivered.
Britain's debt is spiralling and, even after the Comprehensive Spending Review, it is set to reach critical levels by 2018 unless radical action is taken to change course. In this paper Miles Saltiel tackles the country's intergenerational obligations – that is, spending on healthcare, welfare, pensions and education – and shows that we urgently need to radically review the state's relationship with the people to avoid fiscal catastrophe along Irish lines.
According to this briefing paper, proposals to introduce a new ‘bank levy’ would do little to correct the problems in the banking sector, and act as a distraction from other, more pressing reforms. Politicians ought to reject populist calls for new taxes and punitive regulation and instead focus on a few key issues: breaking up the nationalized banks; ensuring greater transparency and more honest accounting; requiring tougher capital and liquidity ratios; mandating living wills so banks can be run down in an orderly fashion; and moving derivative contracts onto regulated exchanges.
In Regulatory Corporatism: Lord Turner and the Tobin Tax financial analyst Miles Saltiel attacks the idea of a 'Tobin tax' on financial transactions, calling it "misguided", "unfounded" and "incoherent". As well as being unrealistic – such a tax could only be implemented after widespread international agreement – Saltiel says the Tobin tax is a distraction from the reforms the financial sector really needs. Indeed, by guaranteeing government a bigger slice of banks' profits, it would encourage politicians to accept the too-big-to-fail, near-monopolies that have emerged in the banking sector over the last economic cycle.
This briefing by City analyst Miles Saltiel assesses the 2009 G20 Summit. It concludes that
In What Went Wrong? An Agenda for the G20, leading financial analyst Miles Saltiel, argues that many common explanations for the economic crisis are wrong, stemming from prejudice rather than evidence. He identifies five key culprits that the G20 should focus on instead: (1) loose monetary policy; (2) hubristic social engineering in housing policy; (3) the failure of the Basel protocols on core capital; (4) banks that were 'too big to fail'; and (5) the effects of oligopoly on auditors and ratings agencies.