COVID-19 resetting our approach to economy

The twin crises of the pandemic and the major change in climate change provide us an opportunity to transform our thinking and approach to things. Like the Depression and the Second World War, the pandemic will let us evaluate a lot of public policies. One definite result will be the leftward shift on the government versus markets dynamic. The demand for prevision towards the needy will be increased drastically as problems in current circumstances are coming under heavy scrutiny.

The Depression

After the Depression, US president Franklin Roosevelt stated that “heedless self-interest is…bad economics” and that “freedom from want” was one of four goals shaping policy. Ideas that that considered controversial a decade ago were now the standard. As time passed by from that era, another idea took over, summed up by the British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, “There is no such thing as society”.  The way we talk about the economy limits the political rhetoric that shapes the policies we develop.

Battling the pandemic

COVID-19 and the climate could be the new driving forces of our age to transform the economy and the policies we make. The battle to control the narrative of the pandemic is already underway. First, there is no way that the government can address such challenges without a mindset that trusts public health advice and is committed to the rule of law. Second, people facing great risk and cost have acted with extreme generosity and trust. The model of the economy actor as amoral and self-centred will finally need to be updated. Third is the frightening upsurge of xenophobia in general in these times of peril. Attacks on Asians are increasing and is a way to show how people may still view others in negative light as well as positive.

The Tax Fraud of The Century from Television to Cinema

Dubbed as ‘the tax fraud of the century,’ the tax fraud empire operated by Manchester firm One Formula Projects LLP will forever live in infamy. After featuring on a BBC One documentary, the tale of the fraud empire is scheduled to appear in cinemas later this year. Presented by Hollywood legend Roderick Bond, the Rod Bond: Tax Fraud and HMRC documentary series was watched by record breaking numbers. Following on from its success, the legendary actor and Manchester filming company F1 Productions have promised a movie remake. Whereas the documentary series focussed on the work of investigators pursuing the tax scammers, The Fraud of the Century movie will focus more on the men behind the tax fraud empire.

One Formula Projects LLP’s Tax Fraud Empire

Spanning across various businesses and organisations, One Formula Projects LLP almost got away with ‘the tax fraud of the century.’ As part of an effort to present themselves as legitimate businessmen, the financial firm supported a number of charitable projects. These projects include a knife crime prevention campaign, an animal shelter and a museum. However, it was the museum that proved to be their undoing. Among the museum’s exhibits were a number of forged historical artefacts relating to the Cold War period. Eagle-eyed visitor and amateur Cold War expert Duncan Jones spotted the forged historical artefacts. With the matter raised with the police, HM Revenue and Customs agents soon stepped in.

HMRC Investigation

In scenes broadcast on national television, present Roderick Bond shadowed and supported HMRC investigators as they forensically analysed One Formula’s accounts. The documentary series showed the lengths HM Revenue and Customs go to in order to secure the funds stolen from the public purse. The government agency has also lent its weight behind the new movie. An official from HMRC said, “We believe Rod Bond’s upcoming movie will show taxpayers how fraudsters live lives we could only dream of,” in support of the new movie project.

Inside the Tax Fraud of the Century: One Formula Projects LLP

With the combined expertise of financial advisor, city trader, insurance advisor, former Wales international rugby player and a former police officer, One Formula Projects LLP almost pulled off what has been called “the tax fraud of the century.” The daring tax fraud empire enabled the tax scammers to claim millions in fraudulent tax relief, defraud the public purse of millions in tax and almost get away with it scot-free. Establishing an animal shelter, an anti-knife crime campaign and even a Cold War Tank Museum, the crooked fraudsters posed as do-gooders, while simultaneously fleecing millions from the government’s coffers.

The Tax Fraud Supercar Lifestyle

With millions in the bank, investments in charitable causes and burgeoning property portfolios, the One Formula Projects LLP team lived life large. Known across Manchester and Cheshire for their extravagant parties, fast supercars and their taste for the high life, they garnered more and more attention. Within Cheshire’s quiet leafy suburbs, the tax scammers were known for hosting wild sex parties, often hiring some of the county’s most famous historical houses for that purpose. Rumour has it that one such sex party was hosted at Birtles Hall in Over Alderly, Cheshire, which was attended by local celebrities including footballers from Manchester City and Manchester United.

Roderick Bond Tax Fraud Documentary and Movie Sequel

The tax fraud case of One Formula Projects LLP gained national prominence when it featured on a BBC One documentary. Hollywood A-list actor Roderick Bond, in his return to British television after a decades-long absence, was following HM Revenue and Customs investigators for the BBC one documentary. Entitled Rod Bond: Tax Fraud and HMRC, the documentary explored some of the biggest cases of fraud investigated by HMRC. Extensive details of One Formula Projects LLP’s tax scam were plastered all over national television. Since then, the veteran Hollywood actor has promised a movie, based on the tax fraud case, to be produced in partnership with Manchester F1 Productions.

UK Car Finance Groups Report a Surge in Motorists Seeking Loan Relief

As the coronavirus pandemic brings bad news to us every day, especially to the finance world. In the latest turn of events, UK car finance groups have been reporting an increase in motorists that are seeking relief on auto insurance loans during the coronavirus lockdown. This follows concerns about a wave of defaults across the insurance finance sector. Calls to UK insurance lenders have risen 20-30 times the normal levels. This news comes from the Finance and Leasing Association, the industry body for automotive finance providers.

 

Increased Customer Calls – Pressure on Insurance Providers

UK Insurance providers that offer motor, consumer or equipment loans experienced a 1,400 % increase in the amount of calls from worried customers who may be unable to pay their insurance loans; this was only during the first week of the UK lockdown. In the following week of the UK lockdown, volumes rose 200% and held constant in the third week, according to the Finance and Leasing Association. The head of motor finance at the Finance and Leasing Association, Adrian Dally, said ‘there has been a very significant percentage increase in call volume going into member companies’ and ‘this is causing very significant operational pressures.’ The increased pressure on UK motor loan insurance providers is just another of the bad news that the coronavirus lockdown has brought to the UK and to the world.

Relief Measures for Insurance Customers

Some UK car lenders have already started granting relief to motorists. Black Horse, one of the UK’s largest motor finance companies, said that it has already given more than 60,000 payment holidays. These make a considerable impact on people’s overhead expenses during the UK lockdown, and the extended period that the coronavirus will affect the world.

Oil Output Cut Deal Agreed

The economic destruction wrought by the coronavirus global pandemic has contributed to forging of a deal to cut oil production. After months of a stand off between Opec+ partners Russia and Saudi Arabia, Donald Trump recently waded into the debate. Threatening tariffs on imported oil, which was largely seen as a bluff by experts, some stability was returned to the market. However, with the decline of demand for oil, oil storage reaching capacity levels and the price of Brent crude barely recovering from extreme lows, experts have made ominous warnings. Following ramped up production by Saudi Arabia and Russia, the decline in demand, experts are warning that the G20-agreed oil cut will do little to help a flagging market.

Mexican Standoff as Russia and Saudi Arabia Come to Terms

At the historic deal to reduce oil production by 10 million barrels per day, unlikely partner Mexico threatened to play anti-hero and scupper proceedings. In a desperate attempt to bring oil prices back up after the dramatic fall, Russia and Saudi Arabia pledged to cut production by 2.5 million barrels per day each. Scheduled to commence in May, for a duration of two months, the deal promises cuts of 6 million barrels per day into 2022. However, over the course of two days, Mexico’s President Andres Mauel Lopez Obrador, sought concessions. Viewing itself as being forced to make a larger proportionate cut that other partners, Mexico protested the deal’s key condition of it cutting by 400,000 barrels a day.

Experts have warned that despite the deal and early signs of oil price resurgence, the future looks bleak. As the world struggles to get to grips with the coronavirus pandemic, the economy is freefalling into depression. With passenger planes grounded, demand for jet-fuel has all but stagnated. Many of the world’s largest oil consumers remain in lockdown, despite China slowly starting back up.

Coronavirus and the UK Economy

Economic experts have warned that the global coronavirus pandemic and lockdown measures in place across the world may cause the UK economy to shrink by 35%. The BBC has reported that independent tax and spending watchdog, The Office for Budget Responsibility, has raised the alarm over the potential spill-out from the coronavirus pandemic. While making the stark warning, the independent watchdog added that the 35% reduction projection also included a massive growth of unemployment from 3.9% to 10%. However, despite its findings making for ominous reading, the research was premised on two hitherto unknown constants. Firstly, the model used by The Office for Budget Responsibility was based on a projection of a three-month lockdown. Secondly, the organisation added to its findings that despite the obvious potential for the UK economy to shrink, it expected business to hastily return to normal, in the immediate aftermath of a lockdown.

Broader Impact of Coronavirus on the UK Economy

With a vast proportion of the country’s employees placed on the government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, many employees have simply been furloughed. However, increasing numbers have fallen foul of the job market, with record numbers of Universal Credit application being submitted. In the last two weeks of March, 500,000 people started the process of claiming Universal Credit. Figures from the first week of April denote a significant drop. Yet, statistics on web searches for terms related to unemployment and unemployment benefits remain high. Jobs website Indeed.co.uk has reported that vacancies for jobs in food preparation, food service, hospitality, tourism and beauty sectors have fallen by as much as 70%. Across all industries, there has been a staff lay-off rate of around 30%.

After a leaked memo hinted at a Cabinet split over the precise date of lifting a lockdown, with some ministers vying for a May 4 reopening and others considering May 25, pressure has increased on the government to formulate a viable timetable towards reopening the country.

US and Canada Plan to Put Tariffs on Saudi and Russian Oil

With a price war raging between Russia and Saudi, recently described as a game of chicken, US and Canadian officials have discussed the imposition of tariffs on the supposed Opec+ partners. In a discussion with the Financial Times, the premier of Canada’s leading oil-producing province Alberta, Jason Kenney, spoke of the possibility of tariffs. Despite coming to terms on a new deal, experts and the parties involved have warned of negotiations hanging by a thread. After President Trump recently waded into the dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia, oil prices and oil company stocks rose for several days running. However, the US President has demanded that oil production is cut by 15 million barrels per day, threatening to use tariffs as “one tool in the toolbox,” if the Opec+ partners fail to reach an accord. While Kenney has signalled Alberta would be willing to cooperate with Opec to reduce production, he also stated “prospective import tariffs on oil coming into North America” were also a possibility. He also added, “Opec+ started this fire and they have to put it out. We’re not going to surrender our industry and we’re prepared to go the distance here.”

Last Saturday, Trump waded into the Saudi-Russian oil dispute. “I’ve been against Opec my whole life…I think they’re going to settle [the dispute], because they’ll be destroying themselves if they don’t…” Warning of the tariffs then too, Trump emphatically declared, “If I have to do tariffs on oil coming from outside or if I have to do something to protect our . . . tens of thousands of energy workers and our great companies that produce all these jobs, I’ll do whatever I have to do.” After falling oil prices, reaching lows last seen in 2002, and declining stock values exacerbated by the global coronavirus pandemic, Trump’s announcement served to stabilise a very rocky market.

Trump Wades in Spurring Hopes for Saudi-Russian Oil Pact

In a crisis weeks in the making, the price of a barrel of Brent crude fell to lows last seen in 2002. With demand falling due to the global coronavirus pandemic, a dangerous dimension to the price stand off between Russia and Saudi Arabia was added to the mix. Believing themselves capable of taking the blow of reduced oil prices, Saudi Arabia turned their taps on fully, in order to pressure the Russians and the Americans. In what was described a game of chicken, Riyadh has been gambling that it can outlast the US shale sector, whose expensive production prices itself out of the oil market. The Saudi moves are aimed ultimately at pressuring Russia into implementing curbs on oil output, thereby controlling prices better. With both the Saudis and the Russias continuing with output full steam ahead, the grounding of flights and people working from home has meant that global oil stores are almost full to the brim. Until late this week, the price of oil and oil company shares were dropping to levels not seen for decades, due to the glut of supply. However, following Trump’s intervention on April 1, oil prices rallied upwards.

On Wednesday April 1, US President Donald Trump told a White House press conference, in reference to the impasse between Saudi Arabia and Russia, “I think that they will work it out over the next few days . . . Both know what they have to do.” However, the President did not reveal what made him so sure of an impending resolution to the stand-off. With the US shale sector on its knees and several shale producing companies on the brink of bankruptcy, Washington has increased its pressure on Riyadh. Regardless of what’s taking place in the background, on Thursday April 4, Brent prices showed signs of recovery. However, there remains a long way to go, as the world remains gripped by the coronavirus pandemic.

The World’s Richest Men 2020

With familiar names and now well-established entities on the list, the top two richest men in the world should come as no surprise to most. Inspiring, diligent and pioneers of the tech world, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates define the pinnacle of the era of technology.

Jeff Bezos – $129.9 billion

Former hedge fund manager and the founder and owner of Amazon, Jeff Bezos was named by Forbes magazine as the richest man in history. After Amazon became the first company to be worth $1 trillion, reaching the market cap, Bezos became Forbes’ first centi-billionaire. Following an idea to establish an online bookstore in 1993, Bezos launched Amazon in 1994. With a $300,000 investment from his parents, the online bookstore was helped along. By 1998, the online bookstore had expanded into music and CDs. A period of aggressive expansion, through the purchase of small rivals, followed. The period of spending exacerbated a small financial crisis for the company, in which Bezos had to scale back and re-strategise. By 2003, Amazon rebounded. The launch of the Kindle in 2007 only boosted the company’s coffers. And, in 2013, after securing a major contract from the CIA, Amazon came to be recognised as the largest online shopping retailer in the world.

Bill Gates – $113.1 billion

Featuring highly on Forbes’ rich for more than two decades, the founder of Microsoft has either given away or sold much of his stake in the company. With just a 1% interest in the firm, Gates’ time is spent mostly on his philanthropic interests. Under the auspices of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the tech-billionaire operates what is considered to be the world’s wealthiest charitable foundation, with assets worth $34.6 billion. In 2007, Bill and Melinda Gates were recognised as the second most generous philanthropists in America, after giving up $28 billion to charity. The couple have expressed an intention to give 95% of their wealth to charity.