George Soros: I’m a passionate critic of market fundamentalism | Letter

George Soros responds to a Guardian article about him by Daniel Bessner

Daniel Bessner has written a thorough and insightful examination of my philosophy and actions over a lifetime (How George Soros thinks, The long read, 6 July) but his assessment itself suffers from a fatal flaw – a set of mistaken assumptions about the beliefs and convictions underpinning that philosophy and those actions.

Bessner says I believe “in a necessary connection between capitalism and cosmopolitanism” and that I believe “a free society depends on free (albeit regulated) markets”. He further asserts that my “class position made [me] unable to advocate the root-and-branch reforms necessary to bring about the world [I desire]”.

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It’s not wage rises that are a problem for the economy – it’s the lack of them | Thomas Frank

Business chiefs moan about vacant jobs going unfilled and how it threatens the economy – so why don’t they just pay more?

In recent weeks media outlets in the US have been fretting over what would ordinarily be considered good news – the roaring American economy, which has brought low unemployment and, in some places, a labour shortage. Owners and managers have complained about their problems in finding people to fill low-wage positions. “Nobody wants to do manual labour any more,” as one trade association grandee told the Baltimore Sun, and so the manual labour simply goes undone.

Company bosses talk about the things they have done to fix the situation: the ads they’ve published; the guest-worker visas for which they’ve applied; how they are going into schools to encourage kids to learn construction skills or to drive trucks. The Wall Street Journal reports on the amazing perks that plumbing companies are now offering new hires: quiet rooms, jetski trips, pottery classes, free breakfast, free beer.

Related: Pay rises faster for top 1% of earners in developed world – report

All the free beer in the world can’t drown out what’s coming

Related: Don’t wait for worried workers to call the shots on wages

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The national calamity we don’t hear about – the death of local democracy | John Harris

Cuts and closures underline the flaws of a system dominated by Westminster’s power. From health to schools to housing, we need an urgent rethink

‘We cannot survive as we are beyond this next financial year. There is no money. I am not crying wolf. I never cry wolf.” So says the Conservative leader of Torbay council, in Devon: a local authority that delivers the full range of services but can no longer function at even the most basic level.

After years of bone-crunching austerity, by 2020 it will be faced with another £12m of cuts – so the most obvious option is to downgrade itself to a district council, hand over its most essential work to the bigger Devon county council, and hope for the best. Whether this will improve anything is an interesting question: since 2010, in real terms, Devon’s funding from government has been cut by 76%.

Related: How can we protect our libraries from closure when the council ignores us?

Related: Council cuts are putting the vulnerable at risk, Tory peer says

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Carney should heed employment experts before rate decision | Larry Elliott

Bank of England – set for August rise – has been consistently wrong about labour market

The message from the Bank of England has been clear: get ready for an August increase in interest rates. Modestly higher official borrowing costs are needed to prevent the economy from overheating.

This, of course, is exactly what Threadneedle Street was saying three months ago. Back then it had convinced the City that a May rate increase was pretty much a done deal but then got cold feet as weak economic data from the first three months of 2018 poured in.

Related: Bank of England expert: World Cup feelgood factor backs case for rate rise

“It is our contention that the natural rate of unemployment in most advanced countries is well below 4% and perhaps even below 3%.

Employment rates and participation rates can rise, and unemployment rates can fall and by a lot. Globalisation has weakened workers’ bargaining power. Migrant flows may have put downward pressure on wages and greased the wheels of the labour market as their presence increased mobility. The decline in the home ownership, which slows job creation and increases unemployment, has helped mobility and lowered the natural rate.”

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UK economic growth bounces back as services sector expands

Bank of England more likely to increase interest rates as inflationary pressures rise

The pace of UK growth is likely to have doubled in the past three months after a strong performance from the services sector , the latest business surveys suggest.

Survey data from IHS Markit indicates that the economy grew by 0.4% in the second quarter, up from 0.2% in the first three months of the year. Britain had a sluggish start to the year when the “beast from the east” weather forced many shops to close, and staff struggled to get to work.

Related: UK economy picks up speed as service sector growth hits eight-month high – business live

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May close to lifting fuel duty freeze to help meet NHS promises

Exclusive: Ministers also considering end to cap on alcohol taxes to boost public spending and cut deficit

The government is close to lifting its eight-year long freeze on fuel duty to raise billions of pounds to help meet pressure from cabinet ministers to boost public spending while also continuing to reduce the deficit.

An inflation-linked increase would raise £800m extra for Treasury coffers next year – and billions more over subsequent years – to help pay for Theresa May’s promise to spend an additional £20bn on the National Health Service by 2023, a pledge which the prime minister had said would partly be funded through a “Brexit dividend”.

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Sun over Blackpool and Scarborough, but dark days are not over

Leading lights in northern England’s premier seaside resorts were in a sunny mood last week, but the towns still face deep-rooted social problems, poverty and lack of infrastructure

The sky is cloudless and the tide is high. Seagulls are scavenging, skin is blistering and the sea looks tempting. The trams go rumbling along the front and the air is thick with the authentic smell of the seaside: malt vinegar on chips.

On a day like this, Blackpool appears not to have a care in the world. The town grew up as an oasis of fun and still does what it was set up to do in Victorian times. As the ice-cream stalls coin it in, it is hard to believe that Blackpool is usually portrayed as a town without a future, the biggest victim of consumer demand for more exotic destinations.

We don’t get a lot of help from outside. We have to make our own luck

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Hello guv’nor: who’s in the running to take over at the Bank of England?

The leading candidates to become Britain’s top central banker after Mark Carney leaves next summer

Mark Carney steps down next summer and candidates are limbering up to replace the governor of the Bank of England, one of the most prestigious roles in central banking. A former member of the bank’s rate-setting monetary policy committee, Andrew Sentance, added some edge to the contest last week by demanding that the new head must not be “jetted in from overseas” and must have a better grasp of the UK economy than Carney. Nonetheless, some prominent foreign names are tipped for the job.

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