In the last two years, $20 billion have left the UK as investors withdraw their money from British equity funds. Conventional wisdom might say that this is because of Brexit uncertainty, but talk to many in the City and they will tell you that the political event that their clients and partners are most afraid of is, in fact, a Corbyn-government. With policies like a 10% expropriation of equity from British companies to, supposedly, the worker (though, read the small print and you’ll see that much of it goes towards the State), it’s not hard to see why. On the podcast this week, Liam Halligan, economics columnist at the Telegraph and Spectator contributor, goes head to head with the formidable Grace Blakeley, a research fellow at the IPPR and incoming economics columnist at the New Statesman. In a highly intellectual sparring match, Grace defends Corbynomics, which Liam calls ‘simply mad’. For her, the Labour party’s manifesto is simply a long-awaited correction:
‘Someone in the piece says, “what can we do to protect our money against Jeremy Corbyn?” But really what they are saying is, “what can we do to protect our money against the people?” [They] have amassed vast amounts of wealth, often by extraction. You know, we have this neoclassical myth that inequality is justified because the wealthier are the ones that create prosperity. So in that sense, they’re saying, how do we protect our ill-gotten gains from democracy?’
We also discuss the Italian government’s budget bust up with Brussels. In Italy, economic growth is a distant memory as youth unemployment stands at 35 per cent, its national debt is 131 per cent of GDP, and the country is just one rung away from junk status on its credit rating. So what’s to be done? Salvini and Di Maio’s populist government (remember them?) are trying to spend their way out of the problem. But there’s just one problem – the budget they propose is significantly over EU debt and spend regulations. On the podcast, Ferdinando Giugliano, economics columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, tells us just how bad the Italian economy is doing, and how ‘schizophrenic’ the Italian electorate is:
‘On the one hand, yes, support for the two parties is still strong… on the other hand, support for the Euro is also going up. And I think this is a consequence of the fact that many Italians think, yes, they may not have seen many benefits of the single currency, but are still terrified of the consequences of leaving it.’
Matthew Goodwin, academic and expert on populism, points out just how high the stakes are. If the situation in Italy is allowed to get worse, ‘it will quickly make Brexit seem like a walk in the park for the EU.’
And last, we talked to Richard Bradford, a veteran biographer, about what it’s like to write for someone who can’t stand you. In this week’s issue, Richard writes about his not-so-good personal relationship with Martin Amis, who demanded Richard apologise for his first draft of Amis’s biography. Is it easier to write for a dead subject than the alive? And are biographers, at the end of the day, vultures or detectives? Do give this week’s episode a listen. And, subscribe, rate, and review us here.