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Latest news and features from theguardian.com, the world's leading liberal voice

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    Instead of growth at all costs, a new economic model allows us to thrive while saving the planet

    So what are we going to do about it? This is the only question worth asking. But the answers appear elusive. Faced with a multifaceted crisis – the capture of governments by billionaires and their lobbyists, extreme inequality, the rise of demagogues, above all the collapse of the living world – those to whom we look for leadership appear stunned, voiceless, clueless. Even if they had the courage to act, they have no idea what to do.

    The most they tend to offer is more economic growth: the fairy dust supposed to make all the bad stuff disappear. Never mind that it drives ecological destruction; that it has failed to relieve structural unemployment or soaring inequality; that, in some recent years, almost all the increment in incomes has been harvested by the top 1%. As values, principles and moral purpose are lost, the promise of growth is all that’s left.

    Related: Old economics is based on false ‘laws of physics’ – new economics can save us

    Related: Eight men own more than 3.6 billion people do: our economics is broken | Mark Goldring

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    In defence of large companies named and shamed by Corbyn (Corbyn declares war on M&S – but retailer ‘does not recognise figures’, 12 April), Experian said that the data taken from its report showing very late payment of invoices do not apply to the majority of invoices. Capita said that only 10% of its payments are made later than 30 days of receipt. But even such a small percentage of late payment by a large company can cause huge pressures down the supply chain, and it invites questions about corporate ethics. Jeremy Corbyn raises a valid alarm about a potential national scandal.
    SP Chakravarty
    Bangor, Gwynedd

    • Jeremy Corbyn is right to “declare war” on late-paying companies. Data on the scale of the problem comes as no surprise. My late father worked into his 80s doing bookkeeping for a small engineering firm. They did minor maintenance on ships. Every time I spoke to my father about work, he seemed to be chasing up overdue payments (cheques in those days) from major shipping companies. On some occasions, his boss had to pay his employees out of his personal bank account. Nothing has changed. That’s what big companies do. That’s why they’re big and why small businesses struggle or go to the wall.
    Karen Barratt
    Winchester

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    The Bank of England, IMF and other policymakers see ongoing low rates as dangerous but can’t see how to change things. There is a way, of course …

    For some time now savers have campaigned for a return to normal interest rates, by which they mean central bank rates more like 4%-5%. And it’s not just about earning more on their savings. This protest against the current 0.25% base rate also has a broader, altruistic bent. At least that is what they honestly believe.

    They argue that higher interest rates will restore a lost balance in the economy – taking it back to the way it was before the financial crisis, when things were so much better.

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    The UK has had three grand plans in 10 years. It’s time to get everyone to agree on the targets and stick to them

    For many years, the idea that a government of the right should have an industrial policy was heresy. The state’s role was to keep inflation and taxes low, then stay out of the way so that market forces could operate. Ronald Reagan summed up the philosophy when he said the nine most dangerous words in politics were: “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

    The idea that Reagan pursued a form of pure laissez-faire is, of course, nonsense. Plenty of US firms reaped the benefits of vastly increased defence spending in the 1980s, a form of military Keynesianism, that had plenty of technological spin-offs.

    Related: Theresa May's industrial strategy: what took them so long?

    Related: The Guardian view on industrial strategy: hot air but no liftoff | Editorial

    Related: Beware the unintended consequences of a robot revolution

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    Theresa May may have won herself room to compromise on the UK’s exit from the EU – but don’t get too carried away

    Ignore the 180-point fall in the FTSE 100 index. Part of the decline occurred before the lectern had even been placed in Downing Street. Part of the rest can be explained by a stronger pound, which tends to depresses the value of the many big dollar-earners in the index. The real question is why sterling, which hit a six-month high, reacted so strongly to an early general election.

    It was because investors calculated – counter-intuitively at first glance – that a bigger Tory majority in the Commons, if that’s what follows, will mean a softer form of Brexit. This argument was best expressed by Deutsche Bank’s analysts, who reckon the election is “a game-changer” for the pound and the Brexit negotiations. A bigger majority would set Theresa May free from the “unrealistic timetable” set by the eurosceptics in her party, they argue.

    Related: FTSE 100 suffers worst day since Brexit vote after May calls election

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    Greenpeace says £2.3bn sale to controversial Australian bank Maquarie risks climate targets, while Lib Dems say bank was sold too fast and too cheap

    The UK government’s decision to sell the Green Investment Bank to Australian bank Macquarie for £2.3bn has been attacked by critics including the Liberal Democrats and Greenpeace as “politically dubious” and a “disaster”.

    A consortium led by Macquarie, which also includes the bank’s European Infrastructure Fund 5 and the Universities Superannuation Scheme, a UK pension scheme for university professors, agreed to buy the GIB, which was established in 2012 by the coalition government to fund green infrastructure projects.

    Related: Green Investment Bank to be sold off in £2.3bn deal

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    The government has secured green ‘commitments’ after the £2.3bn sale. In reality it has secured only ‘good intentions’

    The charge that Macquarie is a ruthless asset-stripper that, given half a chance, would dismember the Green Investment Bank clearly stung. As the government unveiled the inevitable sale, for £2.3bn, to a consortium led by the Australian finance house, all sides were anxious to emphasise the buyer’s long-term enthusiasm for its new purchase.

    GIB will survive as a discrete entity in Edinburgh. Macquarie will throw a few of its own assets – a couple of windfarms and a waste and biomass plant – into the mix for it to manage. It will report on progress in honouring GIB’s green investment principles. It will aim to invest £1bn a year in green energy projects, more than the £700m-ish that GIB was achieving via taxpayer funding. “We look forward to seeing these commitments from Macquarie delivered, in full, in the months and years ahead,” said Lord Smith of Kelvin, GIB’s chair.

    Related: Green Investment Bank sale should raise red flags for Theresa May

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    Of all the reasons for Theresa May to go for an immediate vote, the clearest is that the future prospects for Britain are darkening all the time

    My friend Paul Whitehouse told me the news in my local cafe. At first I thought he was practising a sketch for a re-run of the much-missed Fast Show.

    Sadly, he wasn’t. Theresa May’s repeated denials of an intention to call a snap election had gone the way of so many of her inconsistent and often fatuous pronouncements. There was going to be an election after all.

    If she ploughs on, she could end up by 2020 as the most unpopular prime minister since records began

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    Official GDP estimate – due on Friday – will reflect how weaker pound has pushed up the cost of imported goods

    Britain’s economy cooled considerably in the first three months of the year as higher inflation put a squeeze on disposable incomes, official figures are expected to show this week.

    The economy shrugged off the shock of the Brexit vote last June and has been surprisingly resilient, with growth rates of 0.5% in the third quarter of 2016 and 0.7% in the final quarter.

    Related: Whatever the IMF thinks, we are a long way from the boom time of 2007 | Larry Elliott

    Related: IMF ratchets up UK economic growth forecast to 2%

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    Boost for chancellor as borrowing falls by £20bn to £52bn – but analysts say it is too soon to be complacent

    Government borrowing fell to the lowest level since the financial crisis in the year to the end of March as the economy proved more resilient than expected in the aftermath of the Brexit vote.

    Borrowing fell by £20bn to £52bn in the 2016-17 financial year after economic growth helped drive tax receipts higher, narrowing the gap between what the government spends and earns.

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    Post EU rail franchises | Mugwump | Family relationships and language | E-readers

    John Draper makes a good point about competitive tendering for rail franchises within EU member states – but isn’t the main point about renationalising the railways that there won’t be any new franchises to bid for (Letters, 26 April)! Whether Caroline Lucas wants Britain to remain in the EU or not is therefore irrelevant.
    Paul Tattam
    Chinley, Derbyshire

    • Think before you speak, foreign secretary (Report, 27 April). The term “mugwump” was used in the US to describe an independent Republican who refused to support the party ticket (sound familiar, Boris?) in 1884. I don’t think Jeremy will take too much offence: the term derives originally from the Algonquian Indian language and means “chief” or “great man”.
    Ralph Willett
    Sherborne, Dorset

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    Unions say industrial strategy now more important than ever as two regions will account for 40% of GDP by 2022

    The TUC has called on political parties to spell out plans to spread prosperity to all Britain’s regions after warning that economic activity is becoming ever more concentrated in London and the south-east.

    On current trends, the TUC said, the two most prosperous regions would account for 40% of national output by the end of the next parliament in 2022.

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