Prescott on the warpath

20 December, 2008

John Prescott wants to hear from you

John Prescott is not a happy guy this morning. A firm Atlas Caravans in his Hull East constituency has gone bust after Barclays withdrew a credit facility of thirty years standing overnight when they had a full order book. Now 340 jobs are gone. All the while the Chief Exec of Barclays is still getting a whopping bonus.

He wants to hear about other stories of the banks restricting lending whether that’s for a overdraft, mortgage or loan. You can contact him on his facebook profile. Yes that’s right JP is on facebook. We shouldn’t forget that this recession is going to hit the workers hardest. It always does but it’s worth checking out David Ottewell’s handy little recession impact map and Dermot Finch is the man with the stats.

UPDATE: JP hits Labourhome’s frontpage

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New Europe?

26 September, 2007

It has been an axiom of recent political times that the United Kingdom has a more successful economy than that of continental Europe and is probably the central argument against British membership of the Euro. In particular our flexible labour market is held up as an example to the rest of Europe despite its greater inequality. With the ability of employers to hire and fire at will, it is argued creates a more dynamic economy and increases employment overall.Chatham house international economics programme has brought out an interesting report called Unlocking the Eurozone’s Potential which paints a different and more well informed picture of economic conditions across Europe.The real negative economic effects of unemployment can be felt across the wider economy as it hits the confidence of consumers who then restrict the amount of spending they are prepared to undertake. This could be why consumer spending is only two thirds of the rate of the US and why the savings rate is much higher in Europe.Europe also has a problem with its lower level of productivity as the report notes “Encouraging a trend towards more job switching to higher value added sectors and companies could boost productivity by perhaps 10–20% over the next decade, with growth at higher rates of around 2% or more over the medium to long run.”

Part of the problem is with how employees view rising productivity, namely that it is more work for the same pay. This is a perfectly fair criticism in many cases but on a wider level in the economy the effect of slave driving bosses is much less significant than the structural elements that make up an industry’s productivity. As the report says: “Productivity growth at the macro level is driven by improvements in the structure of the economy as well as by individuals working harder. A better quality environment and more prosperous companies will help boost the quality of the workforce and the chances of the Eurozone sustaining productivity and GDP growth over the longer run.”

So the message is. If we want to have a successful economy we need to go higher up the added value chain. More skills, more research and development, more investment in technology. So the government is right to have the 50% target for 18-30’s going through higher education but universities have a duty to provide courses that will seriously add value to the employability of their students.