2018: Shop till you drop. And roll out the red tape

Predictions for 2018: A fool’s errand, so here goes. Everyone says that ‘the people’ have lost faith in their politicians. Who can blame them given the shower we currently have? Our own Brexiteer negotiators show a level of competence that would make you worry about leaving them alone with sharp objects. It is a terrible irony that as we embark on an era of seismic change, we have politicians of such diminished dimension.

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But, elsewhere more substantial figures stride – Trump, whatever else, cannot be ignored. And Macron is making our oldest world stage frenemy look positively jaunty.

All these factors will play into the market. The US stock market is already flying higher than ever and Trump’s corporate tax cuts will (at least temporarily) take it higher. US company balance sheets are already swollen with cash as they hang back on investment and, combined with booming shares, their M&A fire power is enormous.

Meanwhile, guaranteed further stumbles in the Brexit long goodbye will see sterling all over the place, but mainly down. Combine that with the hapless performance of some UK sector companies and surely some buys will be in order. BT likely. ITV not unlikely. Vodafone quite possible. Add your own.

Meanwhile, if people have lost trust in politicians then politicians have lost trust in tech companies. As we break for Xmas, BT has been told UK MPs simply don’t believe they will stick to their offer complete broadband coverage and so, instead, they are going to introduce a statutory use obligation; by 2020 consumers will be able to demand 10Mbs by right, just as in the past they could demand a phone line.

Unfortunately, the government is wising up to BT’s foot-dragging philosophy too late to save us from bringing up the back of the pack in terms of European broadband performance. Sure, we have a lot of people connected in total, but to a totally inadequate service. Red tape to make them up their game – bring it on.

Equally seriously, politicians all over Europe are tiring of the defensive attitude of social media companies who invade/enhance (you choose) every aspect of our lives and, increasingly, drag money out of every crevice. It is an awesome amount of power – the kind of power that can change the political weather or can devastate an individual’s life in a moment. And yet they deny that with that power should come any responsibility. “We are a conduit, not a publisher”, they say. Increasingly politicians are saying BS to that.

And that’s before they get to grips with the labyrinthine tax avoidance arrangements of these nebulous mega corporations. Red tape to make social media companies take some editorial responsibility and pay their taxes? Bring it on.


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