Martin Vander Weyer

Martin Vander Weyer

Martin Vander Weyer is business editor of The Spectator. He writes the weekly Any Other Business column.

HS2 has been a fiasco. It’s time to ditch it for good

In a fantasy world of wise government vision and decision-making, HS2 would have been announced in November 1964, shortly after the Tokyo Olympics. Visitors to those games saw the future in the form of the Tokaido Shinkansen – the first Japanese ‘bullet train’, which raced 320 miles from the capital to Osaka, carrying 1,300 passengers

How to do business with China

Amid reports of Chinese spies in Westminster, we learn that Huawei – the telecoms manufacturer western governments shun for fear of cyber espionage – has launched a smartphone containing microchips more advanced than anything China was previously thought capable of making. Some analysts say China is now ahead of the US in tech fields ranging

The economy isn’t as sick as we thought

It would be churlish not to celebrate revisions from the Office for National Statistics that tell us the UK is not, after all, the post-Covid invalid of the G7. Contrary to previous figures suggesting we had struggled to regain pre-pandemic levels of economic output, it turns out that our gross domestic product passed that benchmark

The joy of French motorways

The news that Heineken, the Dutch brewer, has sold its business in Russia to a local buyer for a token $1 – at a loss of €300 million, but with job guarantees for 1,800 Russian workers – raises moral issues about when and how multinationals should withdraw from pariah states. A database compiled by Yale

In defence of budget airlines

I have a memory picture of an urban highway in Shenzen, southern China. Recently built, with abundant flowering shrubs planted along its central reservation, it was lined as far as the eye could see by uncountable apartment towers, many of them unfinished. This was 2009 and it was my first glimpse of the debt-fuelled property

The forecast Andrew Bailey actually got right

When inflation was at 5.5 per cent and rising in January 2022, the BBC’s Faisal Islam adopted a look of amazement when he asked the governor of the Bank of England, Andrew Bailey: ‘So you’re trying to get inside people’s heads and ask them not to ask for too high pay rises?’ ‘Broadly, yes,’ Bailey

‘Broken France’ feels much healthier than Britain

Some business stories are useful economic signals, some are not. For example, I’m not building any hopes on news that Ferrari sales are up 15 per cent thanks to buyers demanding ‘cashmere and corduroy’ interiors. Indicative of greater realism among the very rich is the statistic that superyacht sales are down by a third following

Save our railway ticket offices!

‘Always be cheerful’ – a motto to which I’ll return in the final item – speaks to my natural demeanour. But when asked whether I see grounds for optimism in the UK business scene, I’ve struggled lately to find anything positive in the near-certain advent of a Labour government, the agonisingly slow retreat of inflation

Would a German takeover of BT be so bad?

To the Mansion House, on an unbearably humid evening, for the Lord Mayor’s annual ‘Financial and Professional Services’ dinner. It’s a big night for the City, with the formal unveiling of reforms designed to channel pension money into unlisted equities, creating by 2030 a £50 billion pool of capital for high-growth UK companies that might

Let’s flush away the idea of a return to state-owned water

Water, water everywhere in the media this week, as the Thames Water utility – crippled by debt and shamed by Niagaras of raw sewage – reached the brink of collapse. Anticipating government intervention if Thames’s owners cannot inject sufficient new equity, pundits decried the 1989 privatisation of English and Welsh water – which passed from

Markets will celebrate Putin’s fall – but not yet

As the Wagner convoy rumbled northwards towards Moscow on Saturday, markets braced for turmoil. What would armed uprising in Russia do to the supply and price of oil, gas, wheat or fertiliser? Would it provoke investor flights to gold or bitcoin? But when the episode fizzled out, Monday’s prices saw little more than upticks, with

How to avert a mortgage car-crash

How real is the ‘mortgage crisis’ and what, if anything, can be done to relieve it? BBC vox pops of borrowers whose monthly costs have already rocketed or who face imminent rate resets at 6 per cent or worse certainly give a dramatic impression. But in reality this is a slow-motion car-crash – for Rishi

Should crypto be regulated like shares – or more like a casino?

‘Crypto assets are commodities,’ said my neighbour at dinner. No they’re not, I replied, commodities are natural raw materials that have ultimate real-world uses. Crypto is merely a collection of blips in cyberspace to which adherents choose to attribute value. ‘Just like fiat currencies,’ my neighbour shot back. ‘What’s real about them? Aren’t they just

Whose job is it to keep airport e-gates open?

Do you hate airport e-gates? Me too. The instructions are poor, the facial recognition frequently fails and the ‘Don’t abuse our staff’ posters tell you you’re trapped in a system that’s bound to annoy. Last Saturday it went from bad to worse, when all 270 e-gates at UK entry points stopped working. ‘A technical nationwide

Regulators should not roll over for Revolut

Since we launched our Economic Innovator (originally ‘Disruptor’) awards in 2018, I’ve had enjoyable contacts with well over 100 entrepreneur-led high-growth companies picked as finalists from across the UK. Most I met at convivial pitching lunches; the rest told me their stories by Zoom or phone. Only one chosen finalist has ever shunned both the

Rampant unions will embed high inflation

So farewell, Transpennine Express, the northern rail operator whose hapless management were no match for the Aslef union that was determined to see this underperforming franchise renationalised. TPE’s drivers, beneficiaries of the super-luxury conditions I recited last month, have effectively invented a new form of moral hazard: have no fear of crippling your employer with