Thursday, 17 November 2016

Brexit: and Trump and infrastructure projects

The interplay of events in the UK and the US is obvious.

For example:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and climate change: "How Donald Trump and Brexit help us understand the cultural politics of climate change"

When it comes to 'infrastructure', there are all sorts of expectations.

... in post-UK referendum:
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the construction industry
Futures Forum: Brexit: and the future of infrastructure projects in the South-West

... in and post-US election:

Transform America’s crumbling infrastructure into a golden opportunity for accelerated economic growth and more rapid productivity gains with a deficit-neutral plan targeting substantial new infrastructure investments

INFRASTRUCTURE | Donald J Trump for President
Donald Trump's First Economic Promise: To Fix America's Roads, Bridges and Airports | Economy | US News

This election promise is being taken up by commentators - who see the contradictions:

Donald Trump is right about something … kinda
By Ben Adler on Oct 13, 2015
As a candidate for president, Donald Trump is very right-wing. But on one issue, at least, he breaks the Republican mold: He supports more spending on mass transit.
In an interview with The Guardian on Tuesday, Trump said the U.S. should invest in its decaying, underfunded transportation infrastructure. The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs reports:
On domestic policy, the lifelong New Yorker disagreed with many of his Republican opponents on the importance of spending money on rail infrastructure.
“We have to spend money on mass transit,” Trump said. “We have to fix our airports, fix our roads also in addition to mass transit, but we have to spend a lot of money.”
“China and these other countries, they have super-speed trains. We have nothing. This country has nothing. We are like the third world, but we will get it going and we will do it properly and, as I say, make America great again.”

Well said, Donald Trump! I’ve ridden those high-speed inter-city trains in China and Europe and I can attest to their speed, reliability, and value — vastly superior to U.S. rail travel. That has many causes, but certainly Congress’ chronic underfunding of Amtrak is one of them. Likewise, our urban and regional mass transit networks are pathetic compared to Europe’s. Again, that reflects the fact that Congress has failed to raise the gasoline tax, even to keep pace with inflation, since 1993.

Donald Trump is right about something … kinda | Grist

Conservatives vs. Trump’s infrastructure plan
The president-elect’s $1 trillion proposal is getting a welcome from Democrats but not from conservative groups.

One of Donald Trump’s top campaign promises — a trillion-dollar program to rebuild highways, tunnels, bridges and airports — is already meeting resistance from conservatives.
The president-elect has vowed that his infrastructure proposal will create “millions” of jobs, likening it to Dwight Eisenhower’s creation of the interstate highway system. It’s one piece of his agenda that’s drawing support from Democrats, who love public works programs just as much as Trump loves to brag about his experience building golf courses and skyscrapers.
But Trump’s 10-year infrastructure proposal could offer an early test of how some of his more unconventional policy ideas will fly with conservative Republicans in Congress — even though he hasn’t made it clear whether much, or even any, of that $1 trillion would come from federal coffers.
Dan Holler, spokesman for the group Heritage Action for America, questioned the job-creation claims for such plans, in the same way that conservatives have scoffed at the benefits of President Barack Obama’s $832 billion stimulus.
"Conservatives do not view infrastructure spending as an economic stimulus, and congressional Republicans rightly rejected that approach in 2009,” said Holler, whose group is the political arm of The Heritage Foundation.

Conservatives vs. Trump’s infrastructure plan - POLITICO

Without Government, Who Would Neglect the Roads?
Lawrence J. McQuillan
Friday, November 11, 2016

Donald Trump has proposed massive increases in infrastructure spending and a new federal infrastructure bank. Given government’s record of failure, however, Washington would do better to step aside and let private entrepreneurs repair America’s roads, bridges and ports.
In May, the American Society of Civil Engineers published “Failure to Act,” which estimates America’s infrastructure “investment” gap at $1.4 trillion over the next 10 years. This is the difference between current spending and what ASCE says is needed to repair and upgrade our roads, bridges, commuter rail, airports, electric grid, water systems, and inland ports and waterways.
The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) released a similar infrastructure-needs assessment, “Building to Win,” in October, pegging the 10-year investment gap at $1.3 trillion for public transit, highways, bridges, airports, waterways and ports.
Both groups, whose members would benefit from additional infrastructure spending, exaggerate the investment gap, because they base their calculations more on “wish lists” than sound benefit-cost evaluations. But even more sober assessments, by the U.S. Department of Transportation and others, agree that governments—federal, state and local alike—are not spending sufficiently on infrastructure improvements.

Without Government, Who Would Neglect the Roads? | Foundation for Economic Education

Meanwhile, in the UK,we have pretty much the same going on.

UK construction companies are happy:

British engineering firm WS Atkins expressed optimism over its medium-term outlook on Thursday, saying it should benefit from plans by both U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and the UK government to increase spending on infrastructure.

Engineer WS Atkins expects to benefit from Trump infrastructure boost | Daily Mail Online

Trump victory could boost infrastructure spending, say UK bosses
Friday 11 Nov 2016
Bosses of some of Britain's biggest companies have given Donald Trump's surprise election win a cautious welcome amid hopes for a boost to infrastructure spending in the world's biggest economy.

Trump victory could boost infrastructure spending, say UK bosses

And all sorts of goodies are being promised for the Autumn Statement:

Up to £15bn to be spent on 'future-proofing' economy against Brexit
15 November 2016
The Chancellor plans to invest billions on building ready-to-go projects in an attempt to stimulate local areas ahead of Brexit.
Philip Hammond is planning to invest up to £15bn into Britain's creaking transport network and hi-tech industries in an attempt to "future-proof" the economy from the turbulence of Brexit.
The Chancellor will back dozens of small-scale infrastructure projects across the UK to get shovel-ready road and rail links off the ground.
Sky News understands Mr Hammond has earmarked several billion for various schemes - and could spend up to £15bn on infrastructure overall - as he looks for boosts to economic growth.

Up to £15bn to be spent on 'future-proofing' economy against Brexit

With the opposition proposing pretty much the same:
Trump victory a 'wake-up call' for austerity, says John McDonnell - News - Heart Radio

In other words, the politics of 'backing infrastructure' is a bit mixed up, if not contradictory:

The Tories’ penchant for protecting big business
Ministers could do more to defend the free market in some sectors
OCTOBER 1, 2015
As the Conservatives gather for their annual conference in Manchester this weekend, the ideological divide in British politics looks wider than ever. David Cameron’s Tories proclaim themselves to be the only major party committed to free market liberalism, with an agenda based on low taxes and a leaner state. Labour, under its leader Jeremy Corbyn, has lurched to the left, advocating renationalisation and considerable infrastructure spending. For Tories seeking “clear blue water” between the parties, the landscape has never seemed brighter.
Yet the contrast is not as sharp it appears. Chancellor George Osborne has no truck with Corbyn-style nationalisation and price caps. But under him, the Tories have not been shy about intervening in the workings of the economy, introducing the living wage and pressing ahead with big infrastructure projects such as the HS2 high-speed railway. Even more surprising is their willingness to cosy up to corporate champions and established business interests. This is at odds with the traditional Conservative enthusiasm for competition and laissez-faire.

But: who's going to build all this infrastructure?
Brexit Britain’s Building Plan Comes Undone Without Migrants - Bloomberg

Brexit Bulletin: Who Will Build Britain’s Future?
By: Simon Kennedy | Nov 15 2016 at 06:29 AM | International Trade
The wishlist for the U.K. government is pretty long and ranges from a new high-speed rail line to a giant nuclear plant and a third airport runway.
The problem, as Bloomberg’s Thomas Seal writes today, is that such infrastructure projects almost certainly need foreign labor, and Brexit risks imperiling the supply of that.

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