Charlotte Street Partners

DAILY BRIEFING

DAILY BRIEFING

On the fourth day

Written by Charlie Clegg, senior associate 
Edited by Iain Gibson, associate partner
15 April 2021

Good morning,

One question dogs my Sunday afternoons: “What am I actually doing?” Scots could soon have the privilege of asking themselves that question more often.

A four-day working week with no diminution in pay was among the policies supported, if not promised, in the Scottish Greens’ manifesto, unveiled yesterday.The party had already ramped up calls for the change back in October. Yesterday’s announcement comes soon after citizens’ advice charity, Advice Direct Scotland, urged all parties to back the change.

When even optimistic polls rarely give the Greens more than ten per cent of the regional vote, the party’s manifesto will not be a programme for government. That doesn’t mean Scotland’s heard the last of the four-day week, especially if trials elsewhere in the world prove successful.

Unilever’s New Zealand offices announced a trial of a four-day working week late last year, and only last week Spain launched a pilot to see if it was feasible.

In the context of current Scottish politics, however,  the merits and demerits of the four-day week are immaterial. It’s a glossy ‘world leading’ policy: something the SNP likes to discuss if not to advance. It may share the fate of the universal basic income: supported in principle by the Scottish government but not yet enacted.

And like the universal basic income, which the SNP may yet discuss some more, it provides a radical veneer to the Scottish government’s distinctly un-radical economic approach. Green ideas, even a Green coalition, could prove appealing for a party that has been in government for 14 years and stuck for ideas for at least seven.

After 6 May 2021, Scotland won’t have a Green-led government. By 2026, when this parliament ends, Scotland won’t have a standard four-day week. We may well, however, be thinking about it with all the pensiveness of a Sunday afternoon.

News

David Cameron has said he will “respond positively” to any request from MPs to speak about his conversations with former government colleagues on collapsed finance firm, Greensill Capital. The former prime minister already faces an independent inquiry but the Commons’ Treasury Committee yesterday announced plans for its own probe.  

The European Union will not renew its vaccine contracts with Astrazeneca and Johnson and Johnson. The news comes as Denmark ended use of the Astrazeneca vaccine entirely. At the same time, Pfizer, who produce the EU’s referred vaccine, is, according to Bulgarian prime minster Bokyo Borissov, planning to hike the cost of a dose from €12 per dose to €19.50 

The Equality and Human Rights Commission has warned the UK government that vaccine passports for major events this summer could create a “two-tier society” and create unlawful discrimination. The body also recommended that the government does not introduce a “no jab, no job” policy for care home staff until all adults have been vaccinated. 

Business and economy

Asda is planning to overhaul its in-store bakeries: a move that could affect the 1,200 jobs linked to the units. The supermarket chain will move towards centralised bakeries. At the same time, the company claimed it was creating 4,500 jobs and would prioritise moving bakery staff into other roles. (£) 

EY has sold collapsed airline Flybe to hedge fund Cyrus Capital. The carrier, which collapsed last summer, is expected to return to operations. Details of its planned routes and structure are still unclear. 

Cryptocurrency firm Coinbase yesterday reached a NASDAQ valuation of nearly $100bn. This put its value ahead of large established companies such as oil giant BP. Some observers expect the valuation to advance the mainstream acceptance of cryptocurrencies. 

Columns of note

In the Guardian, SDLP Northern Ireland assembly member Matthew O’Toole encourages deeper consideration on rioting in Northern Ireland: Belfast is not in flames nor is Brexit the riots’ chief cause. O’Toole tracks the power of reconciliation efforts. Despite progress, O’Toole argues programmes designed to neutralise former paramilitaries actually help those groups to prey on young people. O’Toole sees Brexit not as the cause but as something which undermines the British-Irish co-operation of the Good Friday Agreement and, with that, undermines reconciliation. 

James Marriott argues in the Times that for contrarianism to exist, consensus must first exist. Yet, in the fragmented world of social media, there is no such thing as consensus. Twitter’s culture warriors are, therefore, not truly contrarians. Marriott compares Christopher Hitchens’ contrarianism on the death of Princess Diana to the ongoing Twitter culture wars. He argues that both sides in the online struggle set themselves up against their own ideas of “consensus” rather than against any true consensus. (£) 

Cartoon source: The Telegraph

Markets

What happened yesterday?

In the US, the S&P 500 index down 0.4after hitting a fresh high on MondayThe tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite, dropped almost one per cent. The benchmark 10-year Treasury yield moved 0.02 points higher to 1.63%. 

In Europe, the Stoxx Europe 600 index rose 0.2%. London’s FTSE 100 closed up 0.7but Frankfurt’s Xetra Dax slipped 0.2%. 

The news comes as JPMorgan reported a fivefold gain in profits, as an improved US economic outlook allowed it to release more reserves for potential bad loans. 

In company news:

Barclays yesterday briefly lost £3bn in value, in what is suspected to be a fat finger error: that is, one in which an operator pressed the wrong button.

What’s happening today?

Finals

Epwin Grp, Oxford Biomedica, Puretech, Serica, Thg Plc

Trading Announcements

Deliveroo, Hays, Naked, Wine, Norcros, Thg Plc 

AGMs

Heavitree, Helios Towers, John Lewis 

EGMs

Ethernity Net 

GMs

Renold

Int. economic announcements

(07:00) Wholesale Price Index (GER), (07:00) Consumer Price Index (GER), (13:30) Initial Jobless Claims (US), (13:30) Retail Sales (US), (13:30) Continuing Claims (US), (14:15) Industrial Production (US), (14:15) Capacity Utilisation (US), (15:00) Business Inventories (US)

Source: Financial Times

did you know

                  Papua New Guinea is the only country in the world where rugby league is the national sport.

Parliamentary highlights

House of Commons

Oral questions
International trade (including topical questions)

Urgent question

Business statement
Business questions to the Leader of the House

Consideration of Lords amendments
Domestic Abuse Bill

House of Lords 

Introductions
Baroness Merron and Lord Morse

Oral questions
Various

Private notice question

Legislation
Various

Scottish Parliament 

The Scottish parliament is in recess ahead of the election on 6 May

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