Regulatory policy

Let’s see some energy policy actions

At Her Majesty’s Treasury, everything looks a bit like year zero in revolutionary Cambodia. Kwasi Kwarteng’s first act was to fire the respected but ‘orthodox’ permanent secretary, Sir Tom Scholar. Now the FT reports the chancellor ordering the underlings to focus “entirely on growth”, presumably at the expense of financial discipline. I imagine a closed basement of fearful civil servants working under the whip of Kwarteng to translate his next “tax event” – tax cuts on top of massive spending to cap energy bills and unlimited borrowing to pay for it. – in the kind of Whitehall language that might sound reasonable.

Meanwhile, businesses large and small remain completely in the dark about the details and value of the six-month energy subsidy program promised by the government. History will one day judge whether the Truss-Kwarteng economic revolution changed Britain for the better, or simply died out. But in the short term, all that matters is the effective execution of measures to avert energy and food poverty, widespread civil unrest and a tsunami of bankruptcies this winter. Action please, not gestures and slogans.

Rethink the city

At the Old Bailey to meet Sheriff Nick Lyons, who takes over as Lord Mayor in November, after defeating a failed Alderman plot to knock him out because of his Irish citizenship. A former banker who sits on several insurance company boards, Lyons says the City does not want the Truss government to water down the independence of the Bank of England, or “a bonfire of regulations”. But he would welcome a change in tone at the Prudential Regulatory Authority in particular – in line with Kwartengism – towards recognizing “competitiveness” as an objective alongside balance sheet strength.

The PRA still applies EU-derived solvency rules for insurers and pension institutions, which it says makes it difficult for them to invest or lend to long-term infrastructure projects – from where desperate pleas for foreign money to support Britain’s new nuclear power stations. He also thinks retail investors and pensioners are missing out because city fund managers’ traditional preference for cash flow and liquidity makes them reluctant to invest in the high-growth companies that make fortunes for investment capital.

Lyons visualizes a £50billion fund – half from the pensions industry, half from government – ​​designed to bridge that gap and “democratize returns from the growing economy”. New regimes, new way of thinking: after having resisted Brexit, the City must reaffirm its role as the engine of national wealth. The Lord Mayors have little power but the next one wants to at least start a conversation. Kwarteng Town Minister Andrew Griffith is expected to emerge from the struggling Treasury to visit the Old Bailey.

Battersea Parable

Take comfort in front of Battersea Power Station, which will open to the public next month. The hulk that once supplied a fifth of London’s electricity was decommissioned four decades ago and widely dismissed as a ‘great pink elephant’ that would never find a new purpose. Developers came and went, and so did unworkable ideas. A well-known climate change skeptic even proposed, in the late 2000s, reinstalling coal-fired generators “to provide the essential base load we will never get from wind turbines.”

But Malaysian developers SP Setia and Sime Darby, who acquired the still-derelict 42-acre site in 2012, have pushed hard to complete a £9billion apartment complex plus shops, restaurants and attractions cultural. The useful moral of the story is that all economic challenges can eventually be overcome – with endurance, imagination and plenty of patient capital.

light my fire

The Prime Minister has tasked MP Chris Skidmore with conducting a review of the UK’s net zero targets. She reportedly handed the role to this prominent ‘Green Tory’ because backbench MPs of that ilk did not believe new Business and Energy Secretary Jacob Rees-Mogg would take the matter seriously. But to be fair to him, sources close to Larry the Downing Street cat tell me that he at least tried to lead by example when it came to energy reduction in public buildings: last November, when The COP26 climate action team that was his Cabinet Office neighbors were absent from the Glasgow conference, Rees-Mogg sent a note asking for the reopening of an old fireplace in his bedroom, so he could put out the lights. radiators and warm up next to a real coal fire. I assume the request was denied.

fusspot inkwell

The late Queen, we are told, referred to her family as “the business”. Five years ago, a consultancy called Brand Finance attempted to value the monarchy’s “tangible and intangible assets”. This included notional increases in tourism as well as everything belonging to the Crown Estate, the Duchies of Cornwall and Lancaster and the Royal Collection. The net result was £67billion – and, given the continued rise in property prices, the figure must now be over £70billion.

If that were the market capitalization of a brand-led FTSE company, it would rank below Unilever but well above Tesco. Overseeing the royal conglomerate is no small feat. In this role, equivalent to that of Executive Chairman, the Queen’s admired attributes included simplicity in communication, adaptability to change and calmness under pressure. His successor, though well-praised this week, has a very different demeanor – of which there was a passing glimpse in his petulance over the position of the inkwell on the Membership Council desk. As the grief recedes, her performance will come under scrutiny. The brand’s intangible values ​​are still vulnerable – but for now, the company is rising as high as the bluest of blue chip stocks.