Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Exclusive: Discussing Brexit Britain, The Scene Is Not All Merry Christmas

Rare: a government announcement that ruffles feathers. Ira Goldfeder, the hardline California tycoon now in charge of Britain’s aerospace, led the U.S. government in targeting Boeing in the height of the Reagan administration. Goldfeder was a conservative who, back then, still viewed capitalism as providing for the common good. His views, in that era, were about as leftist as one can get: union membership; employer responsibility, outsource; a tax code propped up by the bedrock of conspicuous consumption. On top of all that, he suggested building a Soviet-style leisure complex at the edge of the Mojave Desert.

And then he called Loomis “alarmist.” Among other things, Goldfeder called the Boeing woes the result of economic imperialism and the United States’ “socialist tendencies,” plus the blame on “poisoned leadership, bureaucratic creep, even worse cultural insensitivity than Italian.”

Goldfeder’s view of America didn’t live long in the culture, but it lived in a different one. Britain’s Tories embraced BDI for decades, until hard-line Brexiteers like Boris Johnson and Michael Gove broke the alliance. Last week, Johnson traveled to Washington to further invective.

With Johnson working in the Trump camp, who is even in touch with the new administration? Boris is hanging with Goldman Sachs types like former Trump economic advisor Gary Cohn; Gove is in the center of the young U.K. Conservative Social Club — with Ben Edelman, a Cambridge-educated tech executive who made a fortune on obscenely wealthy people. Whatever goes around, comes around. (And Gove doesn’t pretend to believe in standard line charts and measures; he only cares about pounds and ounces. All his data is on waterborne cruise ships, and one of his books is about a man who once orbited Venus on a helium tank.)

Mike Lee, the Indiana senator who helped lead the “Don’t Touch Our Butter” rebellion in the Senate against British House Speaker John Bercow, bought three trips to a Scottish golf resort, topped off with the golf resort’s own vodka. Doesn’t matter if its homegrown and sourced from Latvia.

Rich Berberian, a former Republican lobbyist, recently returned to London after being succeeded by another lobbyist, Tom Barrack. Now, he is living with a Georgian regency: the 10,000 square foot home in London’s exclusive Holland Park that last year fetched $35 million.

The event was called a farewell party for Ian Wace, a billionaire American hedge fund manager, who was retiring from his ultra-conservative Project Syndicate UK with a pre-Christmas bash in the stately halls of Harrods. This was even before “Brexit.”

But not everyone is becoming outrageously rich. Business, for the most part, is hardly cheering Britain’s demise; rather, some owners of established industries were relieved to see the British pound scale back. As Chris Giles wrote in The Guardian: ” ‘We need to sell more wine,’ wine buyer Richard Taylor tells me in the Harrods wines saloon. Indeed we do. It was a dismal Brexit for the wine merchant who made his fortune when sterling’s value collapsed in the past decade thanks to a combination of global imbalances and profligate government policies. In New York in 2013, Taylor’s sales were up 18 per cent on the previous year. At home, they fell by 25 per cent.”

Stellar companies like Vintners Cooperative have currency hedges for importing wine, and because it hedges against Sterling, they’re bound to make more money at the end of the month. “We were lower when we bought this land than we sell it to you in a month’s time,” says Richard Shaw, the Wines Tiller for the cooperative. “Obviously we’ll be happy to see the pound go up.”

Michael Bourke traveled to London to speak with reporters about economics and business in the United Kingdom. His new book “Failing Reality” is available on Amazon and IRE stores

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