Public sector finance Archives - Page 7 of 7 - Emile Woolf writes

Regulators, rating agencies, accountants, economists: they haven’t a clue.

Accountants are mere recorders, whereas forecasting lies within the province of chartists, economists and strategists. Yet accountants must share at least some of the blame for the lapse in forecasting reliability. After all, investment strategists require indicative source material in the form of financial statements prepared and audited by accountants. The principal justification for today’s […]

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EU politics and accounting extremes: the cure is worse than the disease

The human condition is characterized by periodic swings between lawless permissiveness at one extreme and uncompromising rigidity at the other. Whenever one dominates it falls victim to corrective processes that, in turn, become excessive. Sanity is restored only when the pendulum returns, even briefly, to a position somewhere between. Abuses of vulnerable members of society […]

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Banks deserve our opprobrium: they have forgotten all basic principles

Banks deserve our opprobrium: they have forgotten all basic principles   The Chinese Sage Lao Tsu wrote, on the subject of government, that in the golden age people do not even know they are being governed; in the silver age they revere their leaders; in the iron age they respect them; and in the age […]

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Where have all the losses gone? There are no corresponding gains!

I have always assumed that gains and losses balance out in the big picture, assuming the lapse of sufficient time.  If I sell an investment for less than I paid I incur a quantifiable loss.  This does not mean that whoever buys it will make a profit since he too may sell for less than […]

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Borrowers must face the reality of their choices

Since gaining its independence from the Treasury 10 years ago the Bank of England’s pledge to control inflation as its overriding priority has, until now, been visibly honoured and we have all benefited. Unlike the Treasury, however, the Bank’s sole weapon in fulfilling its mission is its autonomy over setting interest rates, and the present […]

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Desperate measures: if it moves, tax it

The purpose of taxation is to pay for the necessary expenditure of government.  Adam Smith spelt out the basics 200 years ago:  the manner in which taxes are raised and spent must be transparent, visible for all to see.   The journey from first principles to contemporary reality leads to a fiscal statute book of […]

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The European Commission must be called to account

The subject of Europe polarises any otherwise rational debate.  Obsessional prejudice, whether pro or con, induces deafness and drives out reason.   More inflammatory even than party politics (where spin and expediency have blunted the ideals), passions over Europe (the Union, not the continent) have taken on the trappings of a belief system, susceptible to […]

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Principled taxation? No – it is not a contradiction in terms

Governments claim to base economic policies on principle, yet results often betray muddled guesswork. Principles have been established for centuries. It is senseless to impose a tax that renders a marginal business unviable – the yield from that business would be zero. Similarly, since tax rates of 0% or 100% yield no revenue it is […]

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