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Posts Tagged ‘British Steel’

The EU, Not Brexit, Killed British Steel | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on May 30, 2019

Cap and Trade-killing industry to prop up government sponsored boondoggles.

Rent-seeking is a concept in public choice theory as well as in economics, that involves seeking to increase one’s share of existing wealth without creating new wealth. Rent-seeking results in reduced economic efficiency through misallocation of resources, reduced wealth-creation, lost government revenue, heightened income inequality,[1] and potential national decline.

Attempts at capture of regulatory agencies to gain a coercive monopoly can result in advantages for the rent seeker in a market while imposing disadvantages on their incorrupt competitors. This is one of many possible forms of rent-seeking behavior.

https://mises.org/wire/eu-not-brexit-killed-british-steel

On 22 May 2019, British Steel announced that they had become insolvent and the company entered receivership with the UK. The explanation provided for this failure is that British Steel is a victim of the UK’s decision to exit the European Union’s bureaucratic fold . On the surface, this appears to be true, as the company stated that orders from the continent have declined due to uncertainty over the exit process that the UK Parliament has dragged out over the past three years. However, if we dig deeper, we find that it was the EU, not the Brexit decision, which killed the company.

European Overregulation

If we look at the company’s latest annual report, we find that the company went from a profit of £92 million in FY ending 2017 to a £19 million loss in FY ending 2018. To douse water on the Brexit claims, the company’s revenues actually increased 11% year-over-year. The real problem was the company’s expenses bloated by a tremendous 25% over the same period. The steel production process is energy intensive, so a significant portion of this price increase is related to a sharp spike in energy prices in the UK over late 2017 to early 2018. The second major cost driver is British Steel was no longer able to delay paying for the EU’s mandatory cap-and-trade policy. Under the cap-and-trade system, companies were able to pull forward future credits to pay for current years. British Steel’s future credits ran out in 2018 and were facing a £100 million bill to cover their 2018 charges. This amount represents a full 10% of the company’s annual revenue base and was so large that the company requested the British Government to provide a loan to cover the costs as the company only has around £5 million in cash to make such a payment. A good deal of the aforementioned energy price spike is also related to the EU’s cap-and-trade regime becoming more aggressive as it moves into the 2021-2030 phase of the program .

British Steel would have become financially insolvent on 22 May 2019 even had the UK voted to remain in the EU…

Be seeing you

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