Opinionomics: Cream of the commentators

The best of the economics op-eds and blogs from this morning and last night

 

1. Labour can't have it both ways on bonuses (The Telegraph)

Some of Ed’s team want to stop City payouts, others to tax them to pay for pet projects, notes Jeff Randall.

2. How many cheers for British companies? (BBC)

Labour's leader Ed Miliband wants us to give more patriotic support to UK businesses. But in an economy as open as the UK's, it is not easy to identify which companies are more or less British, writes Robert Peston.

3. OPEC and Uncle Sam (The Economist)

Taxation of petrol affects propensity to consume differently from market-driven price changes, writes Free Exchange. This is good news for those wanting to reduce consumption, but bad if fuel taxes are intended to raise revenue.

4. And Now for Some Good News (Climateer Investing)

The future isn't all doom and gloom, as the background of new technological marvels shows that the world is overdue a leap forward comparable to computing.

5. Newspapers are completely out at sea (Digitopoly)

The future is digital but the money still isn’t there, writes Joshua Gans. But what's interesting about newspapers isn't how disrupted they are but how slowly change is occurring.

 

Petrol prices near $5 a gallon in LA. Credit: Getty Images

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

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How Theresa May laid a trap for herself on the immigration target

When Home Secretary, she insisted on keeping foreign students in the figures – causing a headache for herself today.

When Home Secretary, Theresa May insisted that foreign students should continue to be counted in the overall immigration figures. Some cabinet colleagues, including then Business Secretary Vince Cable and Chancellor George Osborne wanted to reverse this. It was economically illiterate. Current ministers, like the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Chancellor Philip Hammond and Home Secretary Amber Rudd, also want foreign students exempted from the total.

David Cameron’s government aimed to cut immigration figures – including overseas students in that aim meant trying to limit one of the UK’s crucial financial resources. They are worth £25bn to the UK economy, and their fees make up 14 per cent of total university income. And the impact is not just financial – welcoming foreign students is diplomatically and culturally key to Britain’s reputation and its relationship with the rest of the world too. Even more important now Brexit is on its way.

But they stayed in the figures – a situation that, along with counterproductive visa restrictions also introduced by May’s old department, put a lot of foreign students off studying here. For example, there has been a 44 per cent decrease in the number of Indian students coming to Britain to study in the last five years.

Now May’s stubbornness on the migration figures appears to have caught up with her. The Times has revealed that the Prime Minister is ready to “soften her longstanding opposition to taking foreign students out of immigration totals”. It reports that she will offer to change the way the numbers are calculated.

Why the u-turn? No 10 says the concession is to ensure the Higher and Research Bill, key university legislation, can pass due to a Lords amendment urging the government not to count students as “long-term migrants” for “public policy purposes”.

But it will also be a factor in May’s manifesto pledge (and continuation of Cameron’s promise) to cut immigration to the “tens of thousands”. Until today, ministers had been unclear about whether this would be in the manifesto.

Now her u-turn on student figures is being seized upon by opposition parties as “massaging” the migration figures to meet her target. An accusation for which May only has herself, and her steadfast politicising of immigration, to blame.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

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