Opinionomics | 13 April 2012

Must-read comment and analysis. Featuring oil, Osborne and old people.

1. How Detroit’s adapting to higher gas prices, in one chart (Washington Post | Wonkblog)

Brad Plumer shows that, unlike in 2008, American car manufacturers are finally adapting to high oil prices.

2. The Downside to Longer Life (Slate | Moneybox)

If we all live longer, pensions will become more expensive! Isn't that a tragedy? Well, no.

3. The Swiss boson (Financial Times | alphaville)

"The Swiss boson is a hypothetical condition which is supposed to account for why the Swiss franc has ‘mass’ when all other neighbouring currencies don’t."

4. Any other Chancellor would be seeing the door by now (Tax Research UK)

Richard Murphy asks why Osborne has handled the charity clampdown, the pasty tax and, well, everything so badly.

5. On tax avoidance, allow me to leap to the defence of the super-rich (Guardian)

Nick Hytner, the director of the National Theatre, argues in favour of those "dodging" tax by giving to charity.

A South Korean activist in a Kim Jong-Un mask holds up a fake rocket. Stocks rose across east Asia on the news that North Korea's launch had failed. Credit: Getty

Alex Hern is a technology reporter for the Guardian. He was formerly staff writer at the New Statesman. You should follow Alex on Twitter.

Photo: Getty
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Cabinet audit: what does the appointment of Liam Fox as International Trade Secretary mean for policy?

The political and policy-based implications of the new Secretary of State for International Trade.

Only Nixon, it is said, could have gone to China. Only a politician with the impeccable Commie-bashing credentials of the 37th President had the political capital necessary to strike a deal with the People’s Republic of China.

Theresa May’s great hope is that only Liam Fox, the newly-installed Secretary of State for International Trade, has the Euro-bashing credentials to break the news to the Brexiteers that a deal between a post-Leave United Kingdom and China might be somewhat harder to negotiate than Vote Leave suggested.

The biggest item on the agenda: striking a deal that allows Britain to stay in the single market. Elsewhere, Fox should use his political capital with the Conservative right to wait longer to sign deals than a Remainer would have to, to avoid the United Kingdom being caught in a series of bad deals. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. He usually writes about politics.