Searching for what isn’t there?

When I studied economics around the time Americans elected their first septuagenarian president, everything was made to look simple. After decades of the complex world according to John Maynard Keynes,  Milton Friedman dug up an old equation of Irving Fisher, and Monetarism and its Rational Expectations offshoot were launched at the inflation-tired leaders of the…

Kids’ stuff

In A.S. Byatt’s 2009 masterpiece ‘The Children’s Book’, the reader has one horrible advantage over the predominantly young characters in the novel. As they gradually grow and mature through the closing years of the 19th century and the Edwardian decade that followed, the carefree youngsters are surrounded by art and privilege, several poignantly attending the…

Keeping VAT off the streets

When people refer to ‘tax evasion’, they are rarely talking about VAT. The criminal non-payment of VAT, as distinct from its elder siblings - Income Tax and Corporate Tax, is universally known as VAT Fraud. The name reflects none of the grudging respect for the brilliant wheezes of talented white collar crooks . No, sir.…

No time to die

  In his latest movie, Quentin Tarantino - parodying Hollywood’s parody of itself - has a baddie refusing to die despite multiple wounds to her body. Finally, Leonardo DiCaprio (SPOILER ALERT) incinerates her with a flame thrower he happens to have next to his Beverly Hills swimming pool, and what's left of her reluctantly succumbs.…

…for the people?

  ‘Plutocracy’ is viewed generally as a dirty word. The idea (if not the practice) of government by the wealthy is anathema to those who treasure democracy. At first whiff the OECD Secretariat’s proposal for a unified worldwide approach to the taxation of the digital economy, issued for consultation earlier this month, failed the plutocratic…

Red Scotch Tape

  When Queen Victoria opened the Great Exhibition in 1851, Britain was the world’s leading industrial power, producing more than half its iron, coal and cotton cloth.  Well, I don’t think Her Late Majesty would be very amused to hear from her great-great granddaughter how the country she bequeathed to her descendants in perpetuity is currently faring…

One day more

  Of all the hackneyed aphorisms that grate on my undertaxed mind, that one about nothing being certain except death and taxes has got to be prime candidate for the next cull of the English language. So, I was both irritated and fascinated when it was brought to my attention that Monday last week was…

Brexit Blarney

  A few years after the Good Friday Agreement, I found myself driving along the Irish border. Now, as a non-reconstructed Englishman would expect to find in Ireland, the road snaked drunkenly in and out of each of the United Kingdom and Republic of Eire (fortunately no other countries were involved, probably because there was…

How right is the price?

  The trouble with studying for an Economics degree was that every Tom, Dick and Maths geek relegated the perceived syllabus to three years of reading the Economist and watching the Money Programme. They reckoned they understood everything much better than I did, while (they thought) I had no idea how to prove zero (they…

Trust the taxman?

  My first suspicion that authority wasn’t all it was cracked up to be was at the age of 10, when I saw Lionel Bart’s newly released Oliver! Between the catchy numbers and faux-dirty actors there were two clear messages – the inhumanity of the workhouse system and Mr Bumble’s ‘The law is a ass,…