Gordon’s Unfunded Spending

The UK budget deficit for December alone was £11.4 billion. The numbers are so big that you have to break them down. The government is overspending – tax receipts minus expenditure – by over £14 million an hour, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

At PMQs Gordon seemed to boast about his plans to overspend. This is not sustainable.

Economic Recovery Needs the Audacity of Hope

The City, home of eternal optimists, has begun to seriously price in the all too real risk of national bankruptcy. It would be the first time Britain has defaulted on the national debt since the dark ages. An historic legacy for the former chancellor who, ironically, once claimed to be prudent.
Guido had lunch with a Labour MP recently, when the conversation turned to the economy it became clear that the City and finance were a foreign place, far away, not really understood. The important thing was that there were new hospitals and schools. That the lights may go out with teachers and nurses left unpaid as result of New Labour’s Peronismo policies was not contemplated.

In contrast the writers on the Telegraph have gone into apocalyptic group-think; Simon Heffer wants the IMF in immediately to deal with the insanity of Brown, horrified that £37 billion has been wasted on the banks “a sum larger than our defence budget”, Iain Martin reckons history will see Gordon Brown as the Neville Chamberlain of economics, Ambrose Evans-Pritchard warns of the perilous mismatch between Britain’s foreign reserves at £61 billion (less than Thailand’s reserves) when our foreign liabilities are $4.4 trillion.

Clearly the dire economic situation is of an historic and epic magnitude. Brown is doing the only thing he knows, throwing taxpayer’s money down the plug-hole. The opposition response has been slow to coherence, now under the slogan of sound money they tentatively advocate fiscal responsibility coupled with measures to boost business lending. When seeking to blame Brown for the perilous debt situation, they need to avoid being relentlessly negative, Labour will accuse them of “talking down the economy”. It is a long dark tunnel, yet the opposition needs to offer some optimism and hope that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

Barclays Shares Down 25%

Most of the losses occurred in the last hour of trading. The City is awash with rumours as to why. With the Treasury looking at a second round of bank bail-outs it looks like the taxpayer is going to need a lot of lube for another big shafting. Admittedly it could just be an old-fashioned bear ambush now shorting financial stocks is permitted again…

*Guido covered his gilt short anyway, when fear grips the markets government bonds tend to rally. Will short gilts again later…

Business Lending Package, Too Late and Too Little

Guido’s main concern about the Tory plan to insure bank-to-business lending was that it would encourage risky lending in a failing economy. The lenders would not really have to worry too much about the risk because the taxpayer would pick up the tab. The government’s scheme will provide banks with guarantees covering 50% of the risk on existing and new working capital up to £20 billion. It shares the risk between the banks and the taxpayer, encouraging the banks to lend for the same profit for half the risk. This is in some ways smarter than the Tory plan.

The small business component is for a £1.3 billion of bank loans with a government guarantee of 75% to cover working capital. Presumably this is to reflect the riskier nature of small business lending. This is a drop in the ocean and will barely be noticed. We are six months into the credit crunch. The options were admittedly not very palatable. Why did it take so long to put a plan into place? Could it be Mandelson wanted to get the politics right to fit his timetable of spin? No rush..

Indebted Slavery to the Gilt Market

The Tories are highlighting the terrible debt burden being foisted on Britain’s children. Guido was recently chatting to the economist Tim Congdon about the gilt market and the historically unprecedented taxpayer liabilities in terms of the government’s admitted debts, the unfunded public sector pension liabilities and the PSBR trajectory even if the Tories win the next election. We also discussed on the prospects for the U.S. and Ireland.

The conclusion was that if Guido wants his daughters to grow up in an English speaking economic powerhouse in the coming century, unburdened by high taxes servicing government debt, perhaps it is time to look to India. The external debts of Britain amount to approximately $166,000 per person, the equivalent figure for India is some 1% of that, which combined with their better growth prospects suggests that economic opportunities in India might be greater in the future. When it comes to bonded slavery, Britons will be worse off than Indians in the future.

McNulty Slams Brown’s “Desperate” Golden Hello Jobs Plans

Gordon Brown’s Job Summit at the Science Museum in London will announce plans to pay employers “golden hellos” of up to £2,500 for recruiting jobless people. What does the DWP’s Jobs Minister, Tony McNulty, say about the plan?
Press release
Tuesday 11 November 2008
For immediate use

Tories making headlines on the hoof – McNulty

Tony McNulty MP, Labour’s Employment Minister, responding to the Tory announcement on unemployment said: “This is desperate stuff from the Tories, who continue to scrabble around trying to find a coherent economic policy.

“There is no way they can get 350,000 new jobs out of these proposals. There are too many restrictions being applied, the incentive is too small and many of these ‘new’ jobs will simply displace other people seeking work.

“In addition, the Conservatives just cannot pay for this tax cut – it is misleading of Cameron to say he can pay for getting the short-term unemployed back into work by using figures of savings you would make from the long-term unemployed.

“Osborne’s judgment is wrong yet again. They are making headlines on the hoof and they will be found out. “They need to make their sums add up – particularly at such a difficult time for the global economy.”

ENDS
Editor’s notes:
1. Their figures on how many jobs would be created are complete fantasy. The Tory plan assumes that an employer would create a new job for someone unemployed for more than a year for just £2500. The Tories have failed to take account of the displacement of workers who would have gotten jobs anyway. Currently 60% of people come off job seekers allowance within three months – this number would drop dramatically under Conservative proposals as employers would be incentivised to overlook people who have been out of work for 13 weeks or less.

The sharper among you will point out that this is a Tory plan he is criticising as a “complete fantasy” and “desperate stuff”. So what will McNulty say about the plan now the government has lifted it lock, stock and barrel? McNulty’s Shadow, Chris Grayling, welcomed the chance to implement his policy by proxy “I think it is the right step to take. But it is ironic ministers are walking around saying the Conservatives are a do nothing party, then adopting our policies.” Ouch!

UPDATE : Some bloggers copy party press releases, some blogs are copied by party press offices… CCHQ at 10.38 sent out a press release quoting McNulty’s above November attack on what is now government policy. Wonder where they got that idea?

Hat-tip : Bloomberg

+++ BoE Cuts Half Point Off Rates +++

Bank of England cuts rates half point to 1.5%, the lowest rate in over 300 years. Is it because we have the economy best placed in the world to weather the recession?

UPDATE : Am particularly impressed with the insight of Edmund Conway, the Telegraph’s economics editor, with the base rate now at 1.5% he sagely tells us Interest rates are now nearing their bottom”. Well spotted Ed.

Fred Explains Bailout Economics

As it is in the U.S. of A. so it is in the U.K., borrowing is how Gordon will save the economy. Our children will be truly in Gordon’s debt.

In His Mind Brown Solved the Housing Bubble Crisis in 2005

Alex Barker in the FT yesterday drew our attention to Gordon’s hubristic 2005 speech to the Labour Party conference where he claimed to dealt with the house price bubble:

Why has it been that at every point since 1997 faced with the Asian crisis, the IT collapse, a stock exchange crash, an American recession, last year a house price bubble, this year rising world oil prices, why has it been that at every point since 1997 Britain uniquely has continued to grow?

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Darling Lets the Cat Out of the Bag

Tessa Jowell went wildly off message yesterday and said that Britain is facing a recession “deeper than any that we have known”. Another significant admission from Chancellor Darling suggests we are perhaps not best placed to weather the global financial turbulence: “We are going to be affected more substantially in relation to the loss of revenues that we are now experiencing because of the lack of profitability in the financial services sector.[…]

+ READ MORE +

For You Herr Brown, the Boom is Over

Steffen Kampeter, is the budget spokesman for Merkel’s CDU, last night he backed Peer Steinbrück (the SPD finance minister), saying he was “exactly expressing” the views of the government. Yesterday Balls and Brown were spinning bullshit saying that this was internal German coalition politics – in fact it is the shared view of both the CDU and the SPD.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Something Odd in the Banking Bill

Guido is suspicious about this seemingly innocuous amendment in the new Banking Bill:

Banking Bill
Part 7 — Miscellaneous

Weekly return

Section 6 of the Bank Charter Act 1844 (Bank to produce weekly account) shall cease to have effect.

The 1844 Banking Bill ensured transparency in the operations of the Bank of England.[…]

+ READ MORE +

Banks Have to Make a Profit

As the politicians all start to bash the banks for not passing on the full rate cut, Guido asks how can the recapitalisation of the banking system be successful if they don’t make a profit? This is the danger with quasi-nationalisation – once you start putting political considerations before commercial imperatives, banks will be perpetually loss-making burdens on the taxpayer.[…]

+ READ MORE +

The Run on the Pound

Yesterday sterling had the biggest drop it has had since it was forced out of the ERM on White Wednesday in 1992. The pound was down 4% at $1.48 and it fell 2.9% against the euro and tumbled 4.8% versus the yen.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Zimbabwean Central Bank Endorses UK Policies on Banking

Some people got upset when Guido compared Britain to Zimbabwe, in defence it should be borne in mind that making the comparison does not belittle the suffering of the Zimbabweans. It seems Zimbabweans too are making the comparison; no doubt Gordon (and Vince Cable) will be cheered by this endorsement from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe:
As Monetary Authorities, we have been humbled and have taken heart in the realization that some leading Central Banks, including those in the USA and the UK, are now not just talking of, but also actually implementing flexible and pragmatic central bank support programmes where these are deemed necessary in their National interests.
[…]

+ READ MORE +

Bad News, Good News

With a load of economic data out this morning the pound is off 1% against the euro, the Purchasing Managers Index is down sharply, mortgage lending is down 70% year on year, credit card borrowing is up, PWC have research out saying Briton’s are now personally £1.5 trillion in debt – yet Gordon wants them to spend, spend, spend more.
[…]

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Heather Wheeler talks to Burton Mail about her tweet…

“It was a tongue in cheek pop after the European Parliament tweet – it was purely that. I also wanted to congratulate Team GB on a brilliant result and thirdly congratulate the Commonwealth countries who also did very well. Fourth, I am also looking forwarded to establishing new trade agreements. That was it – nothing more. Let’s just enjoy the summer!”

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