Category Archives: UK

Brexit Disaster Capitalism: £8 Billion Bet on No Deal Crash-Out by Boris Johnson’s Leave Backers – Byline Times

From the financial data publicly available, Byline Times can reveal that currently £4,563,350,000 (£4.6 billion) of aggregate short positions on a ‘no deal’ Brexit have been taken out by hedge funds that directly or indirectly bankrolled Boris Johnson’s leadership campaign.

Most of these firms also donated to Vote Leave and took out short positions on the EU Referendum result. The ones which didn’t typically didn’t exist at that time but are invariably connected via directorships to companies that did.

Another £3,711,000,000 (£3.7 billion) of these short positions have been taken out by firms that donated to the Vote Leave campaign, but did not donate directly to the Johnson leadership campaign.

Currently, £8,274,350,000 (£8.3 billion) of aggregate short positions has been taken out by hedge funds connected to the Prime Minister and his Vote Leave campaign, run by his advisor Dominic Cummings, on a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

via Brexit Disaster Capitalism: £8 Billion Bet on No Deal Crash-Out by Boris Johnson’s Leave Backers – Byline Times

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How to take over your town: the inside story of a local revolution | Society | The Guardian

via How to take over your town: the inside story of a local revolution | Society | The Guardian

Opinion | Brexit, Borders, and the Bank of England (Wonkish) – The New York Times

But the BoE’s worst-case scenario shows a cost exceeding 10% of GDP, around three times what a CGE would tell you. Where’s that coming from?

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Part of the answer is that the BoE includes some nonstandard effects of trade: they assume that reduced trade (and foreign direct investment) will reduce productivity more than the direct impacts on resource allocation would predict. They cite some statistical evidence, but it’s important to realize that this is black-box, reduced-form stuff: there’s no explicit mechanism through which it’s supposed to happen.

However, these assumed nonstandard effects aren’t what’s driving the really bad scenarios; they only, as I understand it, contribute something like 1 percentage point of GDP to the predicted costs.

via Opinion | Brexit, Borders, and the Bank of England (Wonkish) – The New York Times

Mervyn King Says May’s Brexit Deal Is a Betrayal – Bloomberg

t saddens me to see the Bank of England unnecessarily drawn into this project. The Bank’s latest worst-case scenario shows the cost of leaving without a deal exceeding 10 percent of GDP. Two factors are responsible for the size of this effect: first, the assertion that productivity will fall because of lower trade; second, the assumption that disruption at borders — queues of lorries and interminable customs checks — will continue year after year. Neither is plausible. On this I concur with Paul Krugman. He’s no friend of Brexit and believes that Britain would be better off inside the EU — but on the claim of lower productivity, he describes the Bank’s estimates as “black box numbers” that are “dubious” and “questionable.” And on the claim of semi-permanent dislocation, he just says, “Really?” I agree: The British civil service may not be perfect, but it surely isn’t as bad as that.

via Mervyn King Says May’s Brexit Deal Is a Betrayal – Bloomberg

Brexit: An unorthodox view, Yanis Varoufakis, Srećko Horvat & Elif Shafak (full) – YouTube

Srećko Horvat, a Croat philosopher, Elif Shafak, renowned Turkish novelist, and Yanis Varoufakis, Greece’s former finance minister, bring to this conversation an intriguing perspective. As intellectuals who know Britain well, they understand first hand the perils of nationalism, disintegration, isolationism and marginalisation. They place post-Brexit Britain in a context informed by a view of Europe and Britain from the continent’s opposite ‘corner’, sharing insights from Greece’s tensions with Brussels and Berlin, Yugoslavia’s disintegration, and Turkey’s fraught relationship with a Europe that both courts and marginalises it. (A Guardian Live event with three of DiEM25’s Coordinating Collective)

via Brexit: An unorthodox view, Yanis Varoufakis, Srećko Horvat & Elif Shafak (full) – YouTube

Who is behind the push for a post-Brexit free trade deal with the US? | Felicity Lawrence | Opinion | The Guardian

All services and government procurement should be opened to international competition. While these thinktanks acknowledge that opening up the NHS might be too controversial, they think it a good idea. And protections designed to avoid workers being exploited or undercut by cheap migrant labour, which, for example, limit the number of hours people can be asked to work, or require parity of pay with local workers for those posted abroad, should be removed, says Plan A+. The same goes for environmental protections, food standards and the precautionary principle that the EU favours when assessing risk.

The US sees many of these rules as protectionist, Plan A+ explains. It says that in order to persuade the US to make concessions that would allow the UK’s services sector greater access to its markets, Britain will have to make concessions on standards the Americans find irksome, especially in food, agriculture and other goods. The things the US complains about and wants conceded include limits on pesticide residues and hormone-disrupting chemicals in food, nutritional labelling, the use of genetically modified organisms, the export of animal byproducts including some specified risk material for BSE, food additives such as flavourings that the EU has banned because of concerns over safety, hygiene rules including chlorine treatments on poultry and other meats, and animal-rearing standards such as the use of growth-promoting chemicals in pork and hormones in beef production.

via Who is behind the push for a post-Brexit free trade deal with the US? | Felicity Lawrence | Opinion | The Guardian

Percentages agreement

Churchill called it a “naughty document”.[5]

Regarding its import, Gabriel Kolko writes:

There is little significance to the memorable and dramatic passage in Churchill’s autobiography recalling how he and Stalin divided Eastern Europe … Stalin’s “tick,” translated into real words, indicated nothing whatsoever. The very next day Churchill sent Stalin a draft of the discussion, and the Russian carefully struck out phrases implying the creation of spheres of influence, a fact Churchill excluded from his memoirs. Eden assiduously avoided the term, and considered the understanding merely as a practical agreement on how problems would be worked out in each country, and the very next day he and Molotov modified the percentages in a manner which Eden assumed was general rather than precise.[8]

Geoffrey Roberts says similarly of the agreement: “It’s a good story but, like so many of Churchill’s tales, the lily was somewhat gilded.”[9]

Henry Butterfield Ryan states, however, that “Eden and Molotov haggled over these quantities as though they were bargaining over a rug in a bazaar, with Molotov trying, eventually successfully, to trim Britain’s figures.”[2]

Stalin did keep to his promise about Greece, but did not keep his promise for Romania, Bulgaria, and Hungary, which became one-party communist states with no British influence. Yugoslavia became a non-aligned communist state with very limited Soviet or British influence. Britain supported the Greek government forces in the civil war but the Soviet Union did not assist the communist guerrillas.[10]

A draft of the agreement, which was yet to be made in 1944, appeared under strange circumstances when it was supposedly intercepted in 1943 and fell into the hands of Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s secret service. This was mentioned by General Jordana, in a famous speech he gave in April 1943 in Barcelona.[11]

via Percentages agreement

Eddie Myers – SOE- controlled British Military Mission to occupied Greece. Wikipedia

From October 1942 to early 1944, brevetted first to Colonel and then to Brigadier, he headed the SOE- controlled British Military Mission to occupied Greece. In this capacity, he was directly involved in the coordination of the rival ELAS and EDES partisan groups for the destruction of the Gorgopotamos viaduct in November 1942 (Operation Harling), and for the British destruction of the Asopos railway bridge on 21 June 1943 as part of Operation Animals. Increasingly drawn into the brewing conflict between the Communist-dominated ELAS and the royalist EDES, as well as into British designs to restore the unpopular Greek monarchy postwar, Myers was criticised by the Foreign Office for what they believed to be favourable treatment towards ELAS and he was removed from his post. He was succeeded as head of the British mission by his deputy, Chris “Monty” Woodhouse.

via Eddie Myers – Wikipedia

Γιατί οι Ναζί παρέμειναν στην Κρήτη ακόμα 8 μήνες μετά την απελευθέρωση

Μάιος 1945. Μοιάζει απίστευτο αλλά 8 ολόκληρους μήνες μετά την αναχώρηση των γερμανικών στρατευμάτων από την ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα, 1 μήνα από την άνευ όρων παράδοση της Γερμανίας στους συμμάχους, οι Γερμανοί στην Κρήτη βομβαρδίζουν χωριά, εκδίδουν διαταγές και εκτελούν αιχμάλωτους.

9 Μαΐου 1945. Οι Γερμανοί υπογράφουν συμφωνία παράδοσης της Κρήτης, όχι με την ελληνική Κυβέρνηση, αλλά με τους Άγγλους. Στη συμφωνία που είχε συνταχθεί στα αγγλικά προβλέπεται ότι, μέχρι να παραλάβουν το νησί οι βρετανικές δυνάμεις, οι Γερμανοί θα διατηρούν τον οπλισμό τους και θα εκτελούν τις διαταγές τους.

Έτσι οι Γερμανοί έμειναν στην Κρήτη, κατά παγκόσμια πρωτοτυπία, “ένοπλοι αιχμάλωτοι”.

Πώς όμως εξηγούνται όλα αυτά ;

Οι Άγγλοι ήρθαν σε συμφωνία και χρησιμοποίησαν τα γερμανικά στρατεύματα που είχαν εγκλωβιστεί στην Κρήτη περιμένοντας την κατάληξη της εμφύλιας σύρραξης στην ηπειρωτική Ελλάδα. Αν επικρατούσε το ΕΑΜ, οι Βρετανοί δεν θα επέτρεπαν την ενσωμάτωση της Κρήτης σε μια κομμουνιστική Ελλάδα.

Πολλές μαρτυρίες επιβεβαιώνουν ότι οι Άγγλοι προωθούσαν σχέδια πολιτικής αυτονομίας του νησιού που ευτυχώς δεν χρειάστηκε να πραγματοποιηθούν.

«Όσο πλησίαζε το τέλος της γερμανικής κατοχής στην Κρήτη, ιδιαίτερα στον νομό Ρεθύμνου άρχισε μια αγγλοκίνητη κίνηση γι’ «αυτονομία» της Κρήτης με επικεφαλής κάποιο Παπαδογιάννη «. ( Δ. Βλαντάς )
Ο Εμμανουήλ Μπαντουβάς αναφέρει ότι του προτάθηκε από τον πράκτορα της SOE Γουντχάουζ να ηγηθεί αυτονομιστικής κίνησης με την οικονομική στήριξη της Αγγλίας. Σε αντάλλαγμα ο Μπαντουβάς θα χριζόταν πρώτος πρόεδρος της αυτόνομης Κρήτης.

via Γιατί οι Ναζί παρέμειναν στην Κρήτη ακόμα 8 μήνες μετά την απελευθέρωση

Wolfgang Streeck, Ben Jackson | Interview: capitalism, neo-liberalism and democracy

Remember that ‘learning from Germany’ has been a topic of British political-economic discourse since the nineteenth century – think, for example, of vocational training or industrial trade unionism. But Britain had been on a different path for a long time, and beginning in the 1980s was much more than Germany receptive to the lures of ‘financialisation’. I seem to remember that it was Robert Putnam who, when asked how one could build the same kind of manufacturing communities that had in their time made Northern Italy so competitive, suggested that one should try to ‘get a different history’. I do not want to be overly fatalistic. But I am convinced that competitive advantage in global capitalism, and in particular the capacity of a national economy to carve out for itself a niche of more or less durable prosperity in the world economy, are of very long making.

via Renewal | Wolfgang Streeck, Ben Jackson | Interview: capitalism, neo-liberalism and democracy

Against Supranationalism: A Defence of National Sovereignty and Brexit

As the academic and author John Laughland recounts in his enlightening 1997 book, The Tainted Source: The Undemocratic Origins of the European Idea, the standard view of the Nazis as hysterical nationalists that exalted the nation-state is grossly mistaken. ‘[F]ar from exalting the nation-state, fascists generally hated it’, Laughland writes. ‘[T]he rejection of the sovereign nation-state as a viable political and economic entity on its own was explicit in Nazi and fascist thought’.[5] Even more interesting (and unsettling) is the fact that they rejected national sovereignty for the very same reasons that contemporary thinkers and commentators reject national sovereignty – for being ‘out of date’. Much like contemporary supranationalists, fascists were obsessed with modern technology and economic interdependence:

One of the main reasons why fascists were convinced that the nation-state was at an end was because of technological development. They felt that notions of national sovereignty were simply anachronistic in a modern world with an interdependent economy, international transport, and electronic telecommunications.[6]

Camillo Pellizzi, a leading fascist intellectual of the time, for instance, argued: ‘No single European nation can hope even now, still less in the future, to compete in military, economic or cultural matters with the great forces that are coming to birth or are already in being outside Europe’.[7] For this reason, the Nazis believed that ‘the development towards larger units’ was economically inevitable.[8] To that end, they proposed the creation of a new European economic order to do away with ‘the economic Balkanisation of Europe’.[9] Here the similarities between Nazi thought and the pro-Europeanism of our own day are the most striking. In 1940, Hermann Göring, president of the Reichstag, laid out a detailed plan for ‘the large-scale economic unification of Europe’.[10] This included the creation of a customs union, a single European market, a European clearing system and the establishment of fixed exchange rates between countries, ‘looking towards a European currency union’.[11] But Nazi plans for European integration were as political as they were economic. As Heinrich Hunke, president of the Berlin Union of Businessmen and Industrialists, said: ‘The necessity of a political order for the economic co-operation of peoples is recognised’.[12] The ultimate aim, according to Hunke, was the establishment of ‘political union in Europe’.[13]

via Against Supranationalism: A Defence of National Sovereignty and Brexit

Το φιάσκο του Τσόρτσιλ στα Δωδεκάνησα και ο λιμός στην Ινδία – του Μιχάλη Γιαννεσκή

Το 1915, κατά τη διάρκεια του 1ου Παγκοσμίου Πολέμου, ο Τσόρτσιλ ήταν ο ιθύνων νους της απόβασης συμμαχικών δυνάμεων στα Δαρδανέλια. Η απόβαση απέτυχε παταγωδώς: 45.000 στρατιώτες των Συμμάχων σκοτώθηκαν κατά τη διάρκεια των μαχών στα Δαρδανέλια. Οι μάχες αποτέλεσαν τη μοναδική νίκη της Τουρκίας στον 1ο Παγκόσμιο Πόλεμο, προσωπικό θρίαμβο για έναν από τους διοικητές των τουρκικών δυνάμεων, τον Κεμάλ Ατατούρκ, και εξευτελισμό του Τσόρτσιλ, ο οποίος παραιτήθηκε από το αξίωμα του Υπουργού Πολεμικού Ναυτικού.

Τρία χρόνια αργότερα, ο Τσόρτσιλ, αρχικά ως Υπουργός Πολεμοφοδίων και μετέπειτα ως Υπουργός Άμυνας της Βρετανίας, ήταν ένας από τους πρωτεργάτες της «πιο κακοσχεδιασμένης και ανεπαρκώς προγραμματισμένης στρατιωτικής επιχείρησης του 20ου αιώνα», της επέμβασης βρετανικών δυνάμεων στην βόρεια Ρωσία κατά των Μπολσεβίκων. Η επέμβαση στέφτηκε με πλήρη αποτυχία.

Περίπου 25 χρόνια αργότερα, ο Τσόρτσιλ ήταν πρωθυπουργός και Υπουργός Άμυνας της Βρετανίας και σχεδίασε μόνος του μια στρατιωτική επέμβαση στο Αιγαίο. Όπως αναφέρει στο ημερολόγιό του ο Άλαν Μπρουκ, ο τότε αρχηγός των βρετανικών δυνάμεων και στρατιωτικός σύμβουλος του Βρετανού πρωθυπουργού, ο Τσόρτσιλ «είχε καταληφθεί από μια φρενίτιδα ενθουσιασμού για την επίθεση [στο Αιγαίο]». Προς υποστήριξη του σχεδίου του, ο Τσόρτσιλ είχε κάνει μακροχρόνιες – αλλά αποτυχημένες – προσπάθειες να πείσει την Τουρκία να συμμετάσχει στον πόλεμο με την μεριά των Συμμάχων.

via Το φιάσκο του Τσόρτσιλ στα Δωδεκάνησα και ο λιμός στην Ινδία – του Μιχάλη Γιαννεσκή

The Competing Narratives of Brexit | DANTEmag

in different ways the spectre of German hegemony has re-appeared. In the past Britain and France offered an effective counterweight to this tendency. But now Britain has decided to leave and France has in recent years been weak, both politically and economically, though perhaps under President Macron it will recover its traditional role.

via The Competing Narratives of Brexit | DANTEmag

Brexit And The Status Quo Ex-Ante

Every non-euro country’s government except Britain and Denmark must adopt the euro after 2020. Though severe instability of the euro earlier this decade sapped much of the enthusiasm for adopting it, the requirement is embedded in EU treaties. The fiscal pact (TSCG) is inseparable from joining the euro zone because it is the vehicle for enforcing the Maastricht fiscal rules. Taken together, the rules and the TSCG enforcement procedures combine to make a reactionary and undemocratic policy regime as I argued in a previous SE article.

Assume that as a result of a second referendum and/or a vote of parliament a British government reversed Article 50 and sought to re-establish membership. Clause 5 of Article 50 allows for that possibility — if “a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49”.

Article 49 states that a re-applying government shall be treated as a new applicant. Thus, to re-enter the British government would lose its opt-out from the euro and have to adopt the TSCG. Both would be unwise and together would undermine progressive change in Britain.

via Brexit And The Status Quo Ex-Ante

How the aristocracy preserved their power | News | The Guardian

Behind the beauty of the British aristocracy’s stately homes and the sometimes romantic and eventful lives they led, lies a darker story: a legacy of theft, violence and unrepentant greed.

Historically, the British aristocracy’s defining feature was not a noble aspiration to serve the common weal but a desperate desire for self-advancement. They stole land under the pretence of piety in the early middle ages, they seized it by conquest, they expropriated it from the monasteries and they enclosed it for their private use under the pretence of efficiency. They grasped wealth, corruptly carved out their niche at the pinnacle of society and held on to it with a vice-like grip. They endlessly reinforced their own status and enforced deference on others through ostentatiously exorbitant expenditure on palaces, clothing and jewellery. They laid down a strict set of rules for the rest of society, but lived by a different standard.

via How the aristocracy preserved their power | News | The Guardian

Stakeknife: Spy linked to 18 murders, BBC Panorama finds

It also gave him access to the names of new IRA recruits on the pretext of vetting them, plus details of IRA operations on the pretext of debriefing IRA members released from police custody to establish whether they gave away too much to their interrogators.

That explains why military intelligence was so eager to recruit Scappaticci when, in September 1979, he graduated to the FRU from spying for the fraud squad.

He got an agent number – 6126 – and a codename. Stakeknife.

His luck ran out in January 1990 after police agent Sandy Lynch was rescued from the clutches of the nutting squad

via Stakeknife: Spy linked to 18 murders, BBC Panorama finds – BBC News

Nazi Invasion of Crete ~ 1944 Office of Strategic Services (OSS); World War II video

Nazi Invasion of Crete ~ 1944 Office of Strategic Services (OSS); World War II

via Nazi Invasion of Crete ~ 1944 Office of Strategic Services (OSS); World War II – YouTube

1 in 10 first-time buyers rely on Bank of Gran and Grandad to help fund deposit

One in 10 first-time buyers are relying on cash from grandparents in order to get on to the property ladder.

The number of people buying their first home who turn to their grandparents for help with a deposit has soared four-fold during the past five years, according to mortgage lender Santander.

The move is part of a growing trend for first-time buyers to turn to their family for financial support, with 32% saying they will ask their family for a loan towards their deposit, something just 13% of existing homeowners did.

via 1 in 10 first-time buyers rely on Bank of Gran and Grandad to help fund deposit – Zoopla

Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media

Another couple of clicks and I discover that it receives a large bulk of its funding – more than $10m in the past decade – from a single source, the hedge fund billionaire Robert Mercer. If you follow US politics you may recognise the name. Robert Mercer is the money behind Donald Trump. But then, I will come to learn, Robert Mercer is the money behind an awful lot of things. He was Trump’s single biggest donor. Mercer started backing Ted Cruz, but when he fell out of the presidential race he threw his money – $13.5m of it – behind the Trump campaign.

It’s money he’s made as a result of his career as a brilliant but reclusive computer scientist. He started his career at IBM, where he made what the Association for Computational Linguistics called “revolutionary” breakthroughs in language processing – a science that went on to be key in developing today’s AI – and later became joint CEO of Renaissance Technologies, a hedge fund that makes its money by using algorithms to model and trade on the financial markets.

via Robert Mercer: the big data billionaire waging war on mainstream media | Politics | The Guardian

British perfidy in Greece: a story worth remembering | openDemocracy

For Patrikios, it was not until the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956, that the penny began to drop. That a line had been drawn across the map; ‘spheres of influence’ had been agreed by Churchill and Stalin who, inexplicably for those caught up in the fervour of ideological warfare, would go on being respected in their own countries. “The camps made me see the evil of Stalinism,” says Patrikios, “and when I saw the West was not going to intervene [during the Budapest uprising] I, like so many others, realised what had happened – the agreed ‘spheres of influence’. And later, I understood that the Dekemvriana was not a local conflict but the beginning of the Cold War that had started as a warm war here in Greece.”

via British perfidy in Greece: a story worth remembering | openDemocracy