Friday, 19 April 2019

Lipstick on a Pig

A couple of interesting articles I recently read or viewed.

The decline in EU immigration into the UK in the wake of the Brexit Turmoil has proven to be a massive boon for workers, with unemployment falling to the lowest level since the 1970s and UK wages surging:

Average wages are rising at the fastest rate in a decade and employment has reached a record high in the UK, according to official figures released today…

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said total earnings were up 3.5%, including bonuses, despite expectations the labour market would be suffering more from the UK’s looming departure from the European Union.

Figures released by the ONS also show employment has soared to its joint highest level since records began at 76.1% of the working-age population. The official unemployment rate has dipped to 3.9%, the lowest since the mid-1970s…

Matt Hughes of the ONS said: “The jobs market remains robust, with the number of people in work continuing to grow. The increase over the past year is all coming from full-timers, both employees and the self-employed”…

Employers don’t want Brexit and are now complaining the shortage of labour from the EU is driving up their costs. 

It’s simple economics.  When you stem the flow of foreign workers the bargaining power of existing workers increases.  When wages grow the least efficient businesses close and workers move to more efficient industries.  Allowing the mass importation of foreign workers circumvents the ordinary functioning of the labour market by enabling employers to pluck cheap foreign workers in lieu of raising wages. It also discourages employers from training locals in favour of hiring ready-made workers from overseas.

It makes sense that the majority of Conservative MPs support Remain, because they are the party of employers.  What I don’t understand is why Labour isn’t strongly supporting Brexit.  It’s their supporters who have the most to gain.

Then I watched an interview of a government minister from the Irish Republic.  He was explaining that a no deal Brexit would seriously hurt UK consumers because 90% of the UK beef comes from the Irish Republic.  The British were going to struggle without Irish beef.  Moreover non EU beef may not necessarily meet the current EU high veterinary standards.  I almost choked.  Was he delusional, an idiot or just telling lies? 

Beef from non EU countries is subject to a 50% tariff (tax) and is also subject to quotas (the EU limits the amount imported to protect EU beef producers).  Moreover this imported beef has to comply with the EU veterinary standards.  Finally, it’s the Irish beef that was whinny and neighing – not the non EU.

If the UK leaves the EU then UK consumers will have the choice of buying expensive Irish beef or non EU sourced beef which is likely to be 50% cheaper. 

Actually I can see it would be imperative for the Irish Republic to install a hard border in the event of a 'no deal'.  Without it cheaper foreign produce would be smuggled over the border from Northern Ireland.

I’ve no doubt there are advantages in being a member of the EU.  But don’t put lipstick on a pig and try to convince people it’s beautiful.

And now for another example of the size of Australia 


Marilyn, nb Waka Huia said...

Interesting perspective on the Eu stuff, Tom.
We are heading over to the UK on Anzac Day and I will be interested to see what transpires, in particular, re food availability and prices over the few months we are there.

Re the map: I seem to remember reading that there is a very small difference in the size of NZ and that of mainland Britain, the same re Japan. However in the map, mainland Britain looks significantly smaller than NZ and NZ looks quite a bit smaller than Japan. So my question is, how accurate are the sizings?

Regardless of that, it is pretty impressive! Next, for your US readers (that is at least you, Jaq) how about superimposing the US over OZ, please?

Cheers, Marilyn

Tom and Jan said...

Marilyn I agree about the size of NZ. It looks too big. Typical of Kiwis to overstate their importance :-)

Ade said...

Nice work Tom, good research and some great observations of the here and now on Brexit.
That Beef quote is quite unbelievable! You’d think we would be self sufficient! Obviously not and that goes for coal oil and gas!
We Buy the lot in, with the climate change act we have 31years left it was reduce CO2 to 80% of the 1990 figure by 2050. So though we have coal and oil and gas were not allowed to keep extracting.
Nuclear and renewables all the way now.
Electric vehicles have a 4.5k grant at the moment to encourage take up, but range on a charge and initial cost are still a factor.
£500 grant a available for a charge point be it domestic or commercial.
Still 3 days for us to get to Scotland in an EV though from Somerset!
So the Far East or Mr Musk? of Tesla fame still have a lot of work to do in the battery department, as your own project testifies.
Apparently Kia are bring an EV to the market with 240 mile range so things are getting toward an EV folk would be ok with on a charge.
But the first crop of EV’s secondhand are now coming to market so how the secondhand price holds will be the marker for confidence in the market to buy an EV and not loose hand over fist.
Diesel cars set to be outlawed by 2025 or so but we’ll see on that I’m sure.
Sorry for going off at a tangent but a topic that will definitely be interesting to us.
Solar is also set to make a come back after the FIT payment ended and folk lost interest.
Loads of solar installers have gone under or just dropped it as their front line business.

Ade said...

Oh and I also liked the map .

Catherine VK4GH said...

Interesting about less EU workers, and lower unemployment in the UK and wages rising. Australia has long had official unemployment figures over 5%, and just lately I heard lamenting the fact that no matter what, those numbers won't go under 5%. Also wages have been stagnant for years, unless you work for government or big business with regular fixed wage increases. When you see news clips of large factory fires, or fish procressing (2 I re-call recently), the workers are all from overseas, temporary or not.

Tom and Jan said...

All interesting points Ade. The Labor Party leader here has been making noises about a majority of vehicles being electric within 20 years. I suspect it's hot air as the distances are vast and vehicle range so small. Maybe electric vehicles for city dwellers but battery technology is going to have to make massive advances for the rest of the population.

Tom and Jan said...

Catherine for years I've believed that if a company wants to import foreign labour on a 457 visa because they can't find a suitably qualified local then the company should pay a training tax based on the companies total payroll. That money would be spent on training locals to obtain the necessary skills. I suspect most 457 visa applications would dry up overnight.