From a European perspective, Joe Bidens predicts a $ 2 trillion increase in infrastructure spending is not a sweeping statement of intent. The money will be spread over eight years and will increase the federal budget for capital projects by about 1 percentage point per year.
And the United States is starting from a very low base. Congress levies federal taxes which amounted to just over 16% as a proportion of national income (GDP) in 2019 and the total level of taxes, including state and local charges, is 24.5% of the GDP. By comparison, the UK’s share of tax collected as a percentage of GDP is around 37% and in France it is 46%.
One of the reasons for this disparity is set out in the White House document, The United States Jobs Plan, which explains how domestic public investment as a share of the economy has fallen by more than 40% since then. the 1960s.
And some of the projects are so basic, so fundamental to the functioning of a modern economy, that it’s hard to see why anyone would protest a little more spent to turn something that doesn’t work into something that works.
One example is the modernization of water and electricity systems in the United States, removing lead from water supplies and reducing power outages, which recently crippled Texas during a winter freeze.
But according to corporate lobby groups, it’s drastic off the scale, though their objections are not so much to upgrading Bidens’ mission as they are to how he plans to pay for it by a increase in corporation tax.
Indeed, Biden will unravel much of Donald Trump’s legacy by increasing this tax from 21% to 28%. This is even less than the 35% levied under Barack Obama, but it will be more painful than it looks because Trump, in return for business, has also eliminated some tax breaks that will not be reinstated.
Bidens officials want the legislation to go to Congress in the fall, and by then are ready to hear how the infrastructure plan that will also improve broadband networks and increase research and development spending can be funded.
Some business leaders said they expected a larger tax levy and some of the costs to be passed on to consumers. There are also concerns about companies affected by the pandemic and how they will repay debt accumulated over the past year.
Most likely, there will be trade-offs that will involve an increase in some of the reliefs that, for example, allow manufacturers to offset investment costs.
Yet the link between more modern infrastructure and the benefits for businesses is clear. While businesses might bleat about the added burden on them, the White House may point out that only profitable businesses will pay a higher levy and that debt repayments can, as always, be deducted from income.
And Biden plans to raise taxes on wealthier Americans, perhaps in a bill that will accompany the jobs plan, which will tackle inequalities in health and well-being.
All of this comes on top of a stark shock to a conservative country that has spent the past 40 years in the grip of a neoliberal agenda that places its trust in private sector companies to spur growth while the government remains at bay. ‘difference.
Climate change and the pandemic have weighed on the scales in favor of governments, and the public has recognized it. Polls show broad support for major and consistent government action, especially among those who have personally suffered, lost a loved one, or know someone who has died during the pandemic.
Biden seizes his moment. Democrats have the votes in Congress. The United States, for the first time in many years, shines a light for the world.
Relaxation of overseas travel rules will also give airlines and airports a break
The last time Britons were allowed to take an Easter holiday abroad, some 2 million people fled the country. This year, the drawbridge is raised. The return of colder weather for the Easter weekend may attract the attention of politicians. Boris Johnson said there would be an update on international travel rules on Monday, a week earlier than expected.
The reassessment cannot come quickly enough for UK airlines and airports: most are semi-stranded, but continue to bear costs and uncertain of their future. Heathrow has urged the government to review quarantine rules to make safer destinations accessible. Others question the science behind repeated testing that seems simply designed to deter travel rather than prevent transmission.
Many are hoping the early announcement heralds a change in the rules, with the government this time deciding to give sufficient notice. As scientists have reported, the battle against Covid may never end: it is a virus that can now only be held at bay, rather than defeated. It is therefore better to manage the risks in a Mediterranean tavern, or on a sunny beach, than to hide in the British cold.
Granting the right to go on vacation can certainly only play well with the public and will also allow the government to get rid of an uncomfortable hook. The Rishi Sunaks’ ambiguity over special financial aid is bitterly recalled in the aviation industry, a sector whose Covid slowdown was, according to the Office for National Statistics, worse than any other. Yet the ministers had good reason to hesitate.
Discussions about a green aviation recovery deserve little scrutiny and it is difficult to argue for taxpayer subsidies, given the viability and ownership of some companies. Most have been hit hard, but survive. Once the trip is cleared, they can bank on vacationers again instead.
Shyness towards risky lenders causes the poorest borrowers to lose
The financial watchdog has been rightly criticized by campaign groups for its approach to subprime lending regulation since it took over consumer credit oversight in 2014.
Officials from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) spent two years thinking about the advisability of introducing consumer credit into the financial compensation system, financed by an industrial tax, before deciding against it in 2016.
The fact that companies like Wonga were outside the indemnity scheme meant that the companies themselves, their shareholders and bondholders, and not the financial services industry as a whole, would be liable for bad sales of receivables.
This conclusion was accepted by Andrew Bailey, who was FCA Managing Director between 2016 and March 2020, before becoming Governor of the Bank of England.
At the time, it was feared that the big banks and insurers viewing subprime lenders as loan sharks, who kept selling themselves falsely, would have relied on the FCA to deny these lenders access to system funds.
Bailey put in place a 50% cap on interest rates that was supposed to defeat subprime lenders. The financial services industry can be blamed for many things, but not for lacking entrepreneurial innovation. A company called Amigo Loans has slipped under this interest rate cap with guarantor products that share the risk with friends and family of borrowers. Soon, however, Amigo was inundated with thousands of complaints and told a court last week that he would file an administration request unless he was allowed to evade around 90% of the complaints against him.
If the compensation system had been put in place as a safety net, the FCA could have stepped in at the first whiff of complaints against Amigo for abuse. As it stands, there are potentially thousands of them, coming from almost a million Amigo customers. Many of them are among the poorest households in the UK and could be denied meaningful redress.
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