Mannkal Economic Education Foundation

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Centre for Policy Studies

Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 8

Llew Cross, 27 February 2017

Well I definitely don’t think we could have squeezed any more into my last week at the CPS!

This week the CPS has released a new report into UK manufacturing. The report is extremely comprehensive. It is filled with recommendations which the UK government would be wise to take on. My personal favourites are the ideas of Free Ports, improvements in tariff and non-tariff barrier policy as well as the pursuing of free trade agreement with the EU modeled on CETA and a bilateral trade deal with the US.

The CPS had previously published a report by Rishi Sunak MP, which argues for the pursuing of free ports after Brexit. I was unaware what a free port was. Free ports are considered outside of the boundary of a country for customs purposes. This allows goods to enter, and after some value-adding, leave without being subject to tariffs and other economic burdens.

The lower input costs make manufacturing more viable, which will incentivise production and wealth creation. Rishi Sunak advised that these free ports could be implemented in areas that have high levels of socio-economic deprivation in order to boost growth in regional communities. James and Daniel prosecuted the case for free ports, free trade and many other initiatives in order to boost UK manufacturing.

The CPS hosted a book launch on Tuesday night. The writer was Rory Stewart, the Minister of State for International Development. His book documents the walk he did with his father along the English and Scottish border. The CPS was kind enough to give me a copy of the book which Rory signed.

Unfortunately it will be joining the book pile next to my bed that is about knee height! There is too much to read and not enough time. I’m looking forward to finding out about Rory’s insight regarding the UK.

The Marches by Rory Stewart, a gift from the CPS

With Rory Stewart MP, author of The Marches at his book launch hosted by the CPS

In a recent interview, Bill Gates said robots that replace humans should be subject to some kind of tax. Bill decided that because the robot has put someone out of business, it’s productive capacity should be taxed somehow to make up for the loss of revenue with the worker no longer having a job.

I wrote a post explaining to Bill that if we taxed every labour saving device for the number of jobs it removed, we would be stuck in poverty. Every invention does cause some short term friction. Improvements in technology allow us to move into more productive fields of employment, or for less individuals to produce more with improved technology.

Leaps forward in technology have historically improved our lives, not created mass unemployment. Bill is wrong to think this tax is a wise idea. In my post I take a little look at history to see what other efficiency gains would be absurd to tax. You can read my post here.

At the CPS, feeling sentimental

Connor, Hannah and I will be attending a lecture at the Adam Smith Institute delivered by Dr Andrew Bernstein today. Dr Bernstein is an Ayn Rand specialist and philosophy professor. His lecture will be on Black Innovators and Entrepreneurs Under Capitalism.

I’m very excited to see what insights Dr Bernstein will present. He is also an expert on the moral superiority of Capitalism compared to other systems, and I would concur. To quote Fred E. Foldvary,

“A free economy is part of a free society, one in which each person may live by his own values. A free society has a free market for the same reason it has free expression and the freedom to choose one’s lifestyle: because people have the right to be free from coercion in any area of life.

Not only are the opponents of free markets wrong, in their moral arguments; their proposed alternatives are inherently immoral since they are coercive.

The case for the free market exists on firm moral ground: the free market, free from coercion, is the only ethical market.”

With a Lion in Trafalgar Square

Memorial for victims of the Bali Bombing

With the end of my time in London fast approaching, it is hard to believe I have been here since the end of December! Time flies when you are having fun! It has been a whirlwind trying to see more sites in the city. I strolled up to Trafalgar Square and walked through St James Park after work this week.

The sun is finally staying out late enough to have a bit of daylight after work. This scholarship has been an amazing opportunity. Flying 15000 km from home in order to gain some real world experience in a think tank has been exciting, insightful and thought provoking. There are a myriad of ways we can improve as a nation and I hope as scholars we can have an impact.

There can’t be enough gratitude given to the extremely generous Ron Manners and the team and contributors at the Mannkal Foundation. This experience is unparalleled and I would recommend that any liberty minded individual get involved.

Thank you Ron for the life-changing experience! I look forward to remaining involved with Mannkal and the Liberty movement.

Llew

Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 7

Llew Cross, 20 February 2017

Monday brought some beautiful weather with the sun out in London. Connor, Hannah and I were lucky to be on a journey out to Andover to visit Sarah Basden, a member of the Mannkal Advisory Council. We had lunch and were shown around the property. We were even lucky enough to have time to head down to Stonehenge.

The wind was howling and it was freezing cold as we walked the 30 minutes each way to Stonehenge because the ticket office had shut. Nice to see you can still access an historical site even if the bureaucrats finished their work day at 3:30!

Stonehenge

Me At Stonehenge

Tuesday came and the office was buzzing trying to prepare an economic bulletin for release. The bulletin argues for a limit to the amount of spectrum that one telecom could purchase in order to supply its 4G or 5G coverage.

With one telecom acquiring too much of the limited amount of spectrum, an uncompetitive market could emerge where one telecom is able to erect barriers to market entry. This is evidenced by the correlation between the average increase in mobile plan pricing and the 4G network being increasingly controlled by BT.

The spectrum can be hoarded, where a telecom buys large amounts of spectrum and hoards it to prevent competitors from offering services through the network they own. The CPS argues that there needs to be solutions such as spectrum sharing and spectrum caps in order to have a competitive market in the future.

The bulletin has been sent to journalists and we are looking forward to seeing what kind of coverage we get tomorrow. Ensuring the market is competitive is especially important with the upcoming auction of the 5G spectrum.

Daniel had organised for us to take a tour of the Houses of Parliament at midday. Unfortunately you aren’t allowed to take photos inside. We were lucky enough to visit both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, we visited Westminster Hall, and the Terrace overlooking the River Thames.

The history is amazing. The House of Commons has memorials for MP’s who were killed by IRA bombings. There was also a register of all the Commons and Lords who lost their lives in World War 1 and World War 2. There was a surprising amount of brothers who had given their lives. It made for very sombre reading but concurrently reminded me of the need to resist collectivism and totalitarian rule, while always striving for greater liberty.

There is amazing artwork throughout Westminster Palace and the Houses of Parliament, including a large mural entitled “The Meeting of Wellington and Blucher” and painted by Daniel Maclise in the Royal Gallery. It would be well worth your time to take a tour!

Victoria St at Sunset

With my time here in London drawing to a close, there is no option but to put the foot to the floor and get as much done as possible!

Looking forward to my final week here at the CPS.

Llew

Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 6

Llew Cross, 13 February 2017

I am quickly approaching the pointy end of my time here in London at the Centre for Policy Studies but there is still much to do! This week I will publish another piece on the CPS blog. It can be found here. In this post, I explore the possibilities and benefits that autonomous vehicles could bring to everyone’s lives.

The productivity gains associated with autonomous vehicles will be huge. The world will change in a big way and it’s only a matter of time. Companies like Uber and Google and even traditional manufacturers like Volvo are working towards the next big thing. It might take five to fifteen years to get the vehicles on the road depending on how much government interferes and restricts the industry.

In any case, prepare yourself for a shake-up of the way we work and travel, a huge reduction in the revenue government receives through fines on speeding, and a massive reduction in road fatalities.

This week I have also been doing some research on the privatisation of the Water System throughout the UK. All of the home nations have a slightly different system with the system in England most closely resembling a competitive market, whereas Northern Ireland has the system with the most government control.

Once again, supply of the best services and best quality product went to the most competitive region with the least government interference, England. Time and time again we see competitive markets yielding better results than government monopolies achieve. The CPS does a fantastic job demonstrating this through the economic bulletins they put out. Keep your eyes out for a new one soon!

Last weekend I visited Amsterdam with friends of mine from Sydney for a birthday celebration. We had dinner and drinks out on Saturday to celebrate. We also visited Vondelpark – which was massive and beautiful but incredibly cold!

We went to an exhibition in the Moco Museum featuring work by Salvador Dali and street artist Bansky. Banksy’s statement on privacy resonated with me, a picture of his quote is below. I really enjoyed the Banksy exhibit. Some of his works on display had been moved from their original location. Some works had been done on doors, some on brickwork, and some on steel.

Banksy quote on privacy

I Amsterdam

Banksy Van

London had finally been a little warmer at the start of this week, I didn’t need four layers! But yesterday the cold returned to the city and brought snow with it.

Ready for next week!

Llew

Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 5

Llew Cross, 6 February 2017

After the false start last week trying to get on the London Eye (I should have checked the opening hours!), I had a bit more success doing a little sightseeing this time around.

It is hard to comprehend the size of the city until you get to the top of the Eye. The city stretches as far as you can see! It is a huge difference compared to seeing Perth from the sky!

With Martine in the London Eye

Big Ben from the London Eye

The weekend brought a few new experiences to try out as well. On Saturday I visited the Ham Yard Hotel. They have put a vintage bowling alley in the basement! We spent the afternoon there for a friend’s birthday and then went out for dinner and drinks.

Sunday was spent with fellow London interns Hannah and Connor as we went to Chinatown to celebrate Chinese New Year! We went and got Dim Sum together, walked through the markets and Hannah kindly bought us a good luck pendant.

Chinese New Year Festival with Hannah and Connor

Underground Bowling Alley - Ham Yard Hotel

The start of the week was a little more relaxed than usual. With a new staff member starting at the CPS and no bulletins ready to be released I was given time to write more opinion pieces. I’m currently writing a piece for the CapX competition ‘Explaining Capitalism’. Everyone should get involved in the competition!

I have found that trying to communicate ideas in an opinion piece has definitely helped my critical thinking and ability to prosecute a line of reasoning. That the CPS has given me the opportunity to write freely has been a massive boost to my analytical abilities. It has also deepened my engagement in the philosophy and principles of liberty for the individual. With a few pieces in the pipeline, I’m looking forward to having some more published in the coming weeks.

With the time here in London travelling fast it’s going to be a whirlwind last few weeks. Looking forward to every minute of it!

Llew

Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 4

Llew Cross, 30 January 2017

Another interesting and challenging week in London! After some final editing of my article on the Barnett formula it was posted on the CPS blog on Friday. I argue that the UK parliament should be wary about the perverse incentives that arise out of fiscal transfers between different levels of government.

I advise that the best solution is to devolve fiscal autonomy to the home nations in the UK with a view to promoting responsible governmental expenditure and introduce fiscal competition between the home nations. This competition will encourage better and more efficient provision of services while avoiding the negative incentives associated with revenue and expenditure equalisation. I’m looking forward to getting to work on my next blog.

This week I was tasked with researching the major parties fiscal consolidation plans from the 2010 election, as well as comparing the IMF’s changing view on the fiscal austerity policies pursued by the government. In 2013 the IMF was less than impressed with the recovery results after the GFC. By the 2014 review, the praise was almost a complete turnaround from the year before.

I was also asked to attend a question time in the House of Commons where the MP’s were grilled over their plans for Brexit. While there was a lot of tit for tat exchanges, similar to the point scoring seen in the Australian Parliament, the government still refused to be drawn into the game of revealing its Brexit negotiation strategy.

I’ve been very lucky to have someone special visit me from Perth for 9 days! Martine came to visit me and we spent Sunday exploring the Tower of London and also paid a visit to Camden Town markets. The tower is around 1000 years old and has housed all sorts from prisoners, to soldiers and supplies, to exotic animals received as gifts, to the crown jewels and there was even a torture tower.

It was hard to wrap my head around the amount of history that the Tower has witnessed. By the time Australia was just being colonised, the Tower had been around for approximately 800 years.  It is a timely reminder of just how young a nation Australia is.

In front of the White Tower - The Tower of London

London Bridge

We tried to go on the London Eye last night but it was shut by the time we got there, so tonight we will make sure we arrive on time so we can see London at night from the top of the Eye!

The London Eye

This week also feels like it has been especially cold and foggy. I had to buy a new jumper from the Camden Town markets and it was welcome relief from the cold! Walking to the train station I couldn’t feel my face and I could hardly see a thing due to all the fog!

Fog in Eel Brook Common on the way to work

Can’t wait for next week!

Llew

Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 3

Llew Cross, 23 January 2017

This week was a busy one with Theresa May outlining her plan for Brexit in a speech at Lancaster House. I was tasked with listening to the speech and taking notes on the important points and collating them for Daniel, the head economic researcher. The development on this front has been very interesting. As the Bank of England views Brexit as more of a risk for the EU, Theresa May outlined that the UK will be willing to completely walk away from the single market if they are offered a bad deal. This strong bargaining position is ideal for the UK once article 50 has been triggered.

This week also had the CPS releasing a new economic bulletin into foreign aid. I was very lucky and got to work with Daniel on the project, doing some initial research and proofreading, as well as locating data and other evidence on request. After the report was released we looked forward to the next day to check the newspapers. There was a page two write up as well as being featured in numerous other papers. It was very exciting to see the articles on the CPS report!

I have finished a blog post on the Barnett formula and after some more editing hopefully it will be up for everyone to read in the coming days. I’m really enjoying the freedom to explore areas of policy that interest me, and then being given the opportunity to write on them. Having an experienced hand to look over my work and push me in the right direction is a huge help.

Last weekend I explored the Portobello Road markets. There were many tasty foods, incredible vinyls, warm winter clothing, vintage maps, silverware, watches and even mulled wine. I picked up a couple of records, shared a porchetta roll and tried on a couple of jackets after stopping at almost every stall on the street to have a look at what they had to offer. We walked about a kilometre from the markets and went ice skating, followed by bowling, then walking back through Kensington Gardens on the way home. All in all, a great Saturday!

Last week it snowed in the city! We got snow flurries on Thursday night and Friday during the day. It wasn’t much but still made for a very interesting evening. I’m sure it doesn’t rival the snow seen by our Canadian Mannkal counterparts but it was snow nonetheless.

Can’t wait for another huge week and to get started on another opinion piece!

Llew

Statue of Winston Churchill on the walk to Portcullis House

Westminster Cathedral


Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 2

Llew Cross, 16 January 2017

My second week in London has been exciting. The work I have done has varied greatly and I’ve been occupied with a range of interesting assignments.

In Perth public transport strikes are a rare occurrence and travel by car is quick and cheap. By comparison the chaos unleashed on Monday due to London Tube strikes was a sight to behold! I was told I’d get to experience a strike and it took less than a week since I started work. With the tube workers shutting a majority of stations across the city over a dispute over ticket office closures, Londoners across the city adopted alternative means. Buses were packed, the streets were full of people walking and Boris bikes were hard to come by.

This week I had my first opinion piece published on the CPS blog. It proposed that over-regulation of the sharing economy will make us all poorer by supplying us with less choice of goods and force prices higher, action that should be avoided by all governments.

I was asked by Daniel Mahoney to attend an inquiry into the Bank of England report on Financial Stability. The head of the bank Mark Carney, was questioned by Members of Parliament. It was revealed that the Bank of England no longer views Brexit as the greatest short term risk to the UK. The bank also believes that there are greater short term financial stability risks to the EU than to the UK. This was reported in all the major papers the following day. It was interesting to see this unfold in front of my eyes at the inquiry and then read the analysis the day after. I am lucky to be in the thick of the action here!

I’ve also been tasked with preparing quotes and graphs of the day to be posted on the CPS Facebook page and twitter account. I have the freedom to choose what I think will be relevant or engaging so look out for some liberty inspired posts!

I went and watched a football match at a local pub with some friends and the fans were all dressed up in colours and enjoying the local atmosphere. Although contrary to the horror stories I have heard everything remained civil!

With the temperature plummeting here, snow is expected in the city. I am looking forward to seeing this unusual weather event for London but I have been warned it can cause some havoc throughout the city!

I can’t wait to see what the next week will bring.

Llew

Outside the CPS

Westminster Abbey on my walk to the office

Llewellyn Cross – London, UK | Week 1

Llew Cross, 9 January 2017

I arrived in London on the 29th of December and was welcomed with a frost covering the city and plummeting temperatures. What a contrast to the hot and humid land down under!

I was lucky enough to spend New Year’s Eve with friends of mine in London. We spent the day out and about in the bustling city enjoying the excited atmosphere and good food on offer at a local pub. The evening was relaxed and we caught the midnight fireworks, however my jet lag put me to bed soon after!

The Centre for Policy Studies is in the heart of Westminster, a short walk from Big Ben, the London Eye, the River Thames and Westminster Abbey! My first week at the CPS was shortened due to the Monday public holiday for the New Year, but we got straight into work upon my arrival.

After meeting the friendly team, I was given a desk in the office with James Pilditch, the editor for the CPS, and Daniel Mahoney, the head economic researcher. Straight away I was tasked with monitoring the other think tanks in London. I gathered information about their blog posts, recent publications and future events to inform all the staff at the CPS and our neighbours, CapX.

Daniel asked me to think about an area of interest I would like to research and write about. I’m interested in comparing the Barnett formula to the Australian equivalent of the GST distribution through the Commonwealth Grants Commission. The Barnett formula is used in the UK to transfer payments to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland based on expenditure on government services in England.

The Barnett formula is quite unpopular and due for reform but after some initial analysis, I believe moving in the direction of the Australian system would be a mistake. I’m looking forward to further research and producing a thoughtful piece on how the UK can learn from us, as well as how Australia could modify our system to become more efficient in the future.

I’m also currently researching UK foreign aid for Daniel, addressing the 0.7% target of GNI and how this may impact the effectiveness of aid spending, as well as comparing the effectiveness of bilateral and multilateral aid.

The first week has been a whirlwind. I’m planning to visit the Tower of London and the Natural History Museum on the weekend. There is so much to do here you really have to plan ahead or you may be struck by indecision!

Looking forward to another exciting and busy week.

Llew

Westminster Palace from the Victoria Tower Gardens

London Eye from the banks of the Thames

Margaret Thatcher, founder of the CPS

Cathal Leslie – Week Eight

Cathal Leslie, 3 March 2016

The final week of my internship started like any other, but with a shadowing thought that it was about to come to an end. After some busy past few weeks I finally got the opportunity to finish a piece for the CPS on the growth of Peer to Peer lending and touch up on another about reform in Vietnam for CapX (both to be published soon).

My last task for the CPS was about researching recession indicators. There has been a recent bear UK stock market with the media exclaiming that it is indicative of an impending recession. However to quote American economist Paul Samuelson, stock markets have predicted 9 of the past 4 recessions.

Rather it was argued, recessions are far more accurately predicted by a combination of unemployment figures, housing starts and manufacturers indexes. When lined up with UK GDP growth, this combination of figures predicted each of the last 4 recessions stretching back to the 1980s. Indicating that the current decline is more likely a correction of the large rise in asset prices due to quantitative easing by the UK government.

Alas however, it came time to say goodbye on Friday and after sharing a bottle of champagne with the staff at both the CPS and CapX we said our farewells.

I can scarcely believe how quickly the past 8 weeks have gone. After travelling from rural Ireland to metropolitan France , to researching arguments that have appeared in national newspapers, it has truly been an enriching experience and one I won’t be soon to forget!

I must give great thanks to Ron Manners and the Mannkal team for what has proven to be both a formative and challenging experience and I would encourage anyone reading to get cracking and apply for an opportunity of a lifetime!!!

Cathal Leslie – Week 7

Cathal Leslie, 29 February 2016

Week 7 turned out to be a very interesting week.

I helped my boss write a bulletin about the Monopoly that British Telecommunications Plc is operating in. A number of broadband providers who have to use their infrastructure were publicly complaining about the poor maintenance and service of the infrastructure. The bulletin’s recommendation was to refer the company to the competition’s authority with the view that they could investigate potentially segmenting the part of the company that deals with infrastructure from the broader business. This separation could potentially allow broadband providers to each invest in this segmented company and hence it would have a greater incentive to be run more effectively.

However when this bulletin was published it was quickly up by the press and British Telecommunications. This provoked quite the furious response from the company, possibly indicating that we struck a nerve?

My boss Dan, also treated myself and Wei to a tour of Westminster palace. The history in the building is unbelievable, I was completely blown away by the beauty of all the artifacts, paintings and statues that littered the place. It such a shame that you aren’t allowed to take photos inside!

I also had the opportunity to try a deep fried Mars bar… not as enjoyable…

One more week, and I’m already starting to miss this place!