Competition :You Do a PMQ and Win Tickets to Frost/Nixon Movie Preview

This could be a lot of fun. Get your webcam out and ask Gordon your question about the economy and upload it to the YouTube Downing Street channel before the close of tomorrow. Then we all go back and vote on which questions Gordon has to answer next week. Remember WebCameron? The co-conspirators always got their questions voted the ones Dave had to answer…

As well as the fun of asking Gordon a question that will undoubtedly be seen by tens of thousands of co-conspirators, Guido will throw in an extra prize of his own to the video submission he judges best- two tickets to the preview screening of Frost Nixon – An Epic Battle for Truth in London next week. The prize includes the opportunity to quiz the screenwriter and producer Peter Morgan afterwards. The film dramatises how three years after being forced from office, Nixon remained silent. But in summer 1977, the steely, cunning former commander-in-chief agreed to sit for one all-inclusive interview to confront the questions of his time in office and the Watergate scandal that ended his presidency.

This competition requires you to be Frost and ask the question that confronts Gordon about how his handling of the economy will end his Premiership. Go here for instructions on how to upload your question for Gordon, then email Guido the link to your video when you have uploaded it and Guido’s geeks will copy it – just in case Downing Street tries to erase your question in the same way Nixon wanted to erase those tapes. Gordon increasingly reminds Guido of Nixon…

Pound Collapse Shows Britain Not "Best Placed"

You can’t buck the market someone once said, perhaps that is why every time Gordon and Alistair tell us that “Britain is best placed to weather the global crisis” the pound falls another notch. As you can see from these charts the pound is down 25% against the dollar and the yen in the last three months and over 10% against the euro this year.

This has one benefit, it helps exporters. However Britain runs a current account deficit and imports more than it exports. Key commodities are priced in dollars, so although oil has fallen 50% in price, the fall in the pound against the dollar means that that benefit is reduced by 25%.

The reason the pound is falling is because foreign investors don’t want to hold sterling assets. Money supply (M4) is off the chart, the government is flooding the debt markets with cash, gilt issuance is going to be a massive £100 billion, the government is still a AAA risk for now, but so were many investment banks until recently. Nobody believes Gordon’s “we have reduced government debt” routine, it is laughable, where did the money for all the schools, hospitals, quangoes and bureaucrats come from Gordon? Include all the taxpayers liabilities and UK government debt is up there with Italy at over 100% of GDP.

There is a lot of scepticism about Gordon’s borrow more, spend more solution. It will be years before any capital infrastructure spending will come through to the real economy, it will worsen the government’s indebtedness and crowd out the private sector. The Tories seem incoherent and without a macro-solution, a little help here and there for small business isn’t going to turn around the economy. “Sound money and economic responsibility” is all very well, if that had been government policy rather than just an opposition slogan we might not be in this mess. It has come to something when the LibDems offer voters more in tax cuts than the Tories. Today Britain desperately needs a real growth package for the real economy. The Tories are too timid and scared of the old Labour attack lines. Voters understand that government spending has to be tightened, Clegg senses that too, why not the Cameroons?

Tail-End of a Labour Government, Pound Collapses

Government borrowing is at record levels, unemployment is heading towards two million, car workers are on a 3-day week, public sector workers are threatening strikes, nationalisation is back, Deripaska-owned Leyland is even in back the news and we are entering a recession. To complete the whole 70s era feel we have a sterling collapse. 6% last night, 20% since the beginning of the year.

The BBC’s business editor is focusing on political gossip. Guido will therefore have to take up the slack on the business reporting front…

Credit Crunch : Irish Politicians Lead with Pay Cuts

Hopefully this is another Irish example that will be followed here. The Irish President Mary McAleese has announced that she will be taking a 10% pay cut in light of the current budgetary troubles. The finance Minister Brian Lenihan says he and his ministerial colleagues will also take a 10% wage cut. The opposition leader has instructed his party’s parliamentarians to take a 5% cut. The governor of the Irish Central Bank and Financial Services Authority has volunteered to also surrender 10% of pay. RTÉ’s top six executives are taking a “significant reduction” in pay. This follows the government’s announcement of a round of spending cuts as recession bites.

The Irish ruling elite realise that they need to show leadership by example in tough times.

Will British politicians follow suit? After all their pension’s profited from short selling. Will they get their snouts out of the hard-pressed taxpayer provided gold-plated troughs? Perhaps some of the senior executives at the BBC could follow the example of their counterparts at the Irish state broadcaster? They all want the bankers to sacrifice their bonuses, but don’t the Chairman of the FSA and the Governor of the Bank of England need to make sacrifices? It is not as if they have been brilliant at bank regulation. If they were all paid on a performance-related basis they should be losing 30% or more – the same as the stock market has cost pensioners…

Tory Script Includes Dramatic Pause

According to ConservativeHome the Tories have decided that the narrative and the popular perception of Gordon “saving the banking system” is too hard to overcome currently. As head of government Gordon is the financial pilot in the cockpit waving to admirers as he performs acrobatic and risky financial stunts above the heads of the public – who can only hope he doesn’t come crashing down on their heads.

Vince Cable is ignored on the ground shouting random directions to attract attention from the crowd. Little can be done to avoid Gordon claiming credit and to be fair, his contemporary version of the Swedish bail-out model was better than the Paulson Plan Mk 1. The Tories plan in their attack to hold off until recession bites and then point the public towards Gordon and give him the credit he deserves for the magnitude of the bust.

Might work, though Gordon will try to pass the buck as ever, blaming Iceland or the non-appearance of the tooth fairy for Britain’s woes. The triumphalism of this week may fade from the public’s memory pretty quick. Danny Finkelstein has nailed it to Gordon, If this is a triumph, I’d hate to see a disaster. Fink’s argument needs to be re-scripted in populist form.

In a month or so attack videos need to replay Gordon intoning an end to “boom and bust” over and over again at different times in different ties, than replay him asking last week “has another bank gone bust?”, zooming in slow motion on to that, for once, authentic smile. As recession brings unemployment and repossessions, his self confession to presiding over the age of irresponsibly low interest rates and a failed regulatory regime he designed needs to be drummed into voters – along with Gordon’s smile of triumph amidst disaster.

Where’s Our Bail-Out? The Bankers Got Theirs…

Now Brown is bailing out the bankers with the taxpayers money the question Guido wants to answered is: Where is our bail-out?

Billions in future tax payments are being risked to bankers. They are supposed to pay back the debt to the Treasury when things pick up. Hopefully.

The economy won’t pick up until the housing market picks up. Kick-starting the housing market is going to take one helluva kick. In America Obama is talking about a 90-day moratorium on home repossessions and McCain is advocating government-backed mortgage rescheduling, another policy idea doing the rounds is giving home buyers $15,000 tax relief, effectively making a mortgage deposit tax deductible.

Something glaring that strikes Guido as unfair in the British tax system* is that whereas the bank corporations will be able to deduct loan interest payments from their tax bills, individuals can’t. Why not bail-out homeowners too by making their mortgage interest payments tax deductible? Consumers are feeling the pinch, if they could claim the same tax relief that the bankers will, they would spend it and boost the economy. Boosting the economy is key to keeping the recession short. Unlike the banker bail-out this isn’t a handout from taxpayers, it lets taxpayers keep their money flowing into the economy.

*Gordon took away mortgage interest tax relief in 1999.

UPDATE : The comments below from some call this proposal neo-Keynesian, suggest it would re-flate the housing bubble and call it a middle-class subsidy.

The idea that people should be taxed less to promote spending growth is pretty straight forward. Keeping people’s earnings in their pocket to spend promotes growth in a much healthier way than the government taxing their earnings more to spend inefficiently. Some people fetishisise taxes as if they were a good thing in and of themselves. The property market is not going to bubble again in our lifetimes, have no fear. A subsidy is what public sector tenants have, taking less in taxes off people is not subsidising them.

Flash Mob Rumour

Don’t know much about this, but keep getting tipped off from different directions. Doesn’t sound like the usual rent-a-crowd of Trots. A disorganised flash mob, no speeches, just show up on the steps of the Bank of England…


UPDATE 17.50 :
From the comments, going around the City:

To all staff in the London Office

We have been informed by the City of London Police that a protest against financial institutions in the City will be taking place from about 3.00 pm till 6.00pm tomorrow. The protest by the ‘Socialist Workers Party’ will originate in the area of Bank Junction and the Royal Exchange. Exact numbers of demonstrators are not known but the Police will be in attendance as normal.

We will be increasing building security arrangements as a precaution. Your safety is our priority and the advice we have received is for staff to use caution and remain vigilant when travelling through the City.

Thank you for your co-operation.

So it will be a load of Trots and possibly Guido with a “No Bolshevism for Bankers” placard. Wonder if Heffer fancies a spot of lunch at Coq d’Argent and joining the demo afterwards?

Flashback : Brown 2005 Speech on "Light Touch Regulation"

Today’s speech will no doubt include a section about how he for many years had, with great insight, been calling for global financial regulation. His speech in 2005 to the CBI however was pure New Labour neo-liberalism, praising enterprise, free markets and globalisation. He promised the corporate class deregulation, a “new risk based model of regulation” for financial services
“no inspection without justification, no form filling without justification, and no information requirements without justification, not just a light touch but a limited touch.”

So there was no risk-based reason to clamp down on Northern Rock?

Osborne in the Indy catches Balls at it as well

“But the real prize for memory loss must go to Ed Balls. On Monday he said that those who had advocated “light touch regulation” had been, in his words, “routed”. This is the same Ed Balls who as Chief Economic Adviser to the Treasury for eight years boasted about the “light touch” regime of City regulation he had designed. This is also the same Ed Balls who then as City Minister called for “a light touch approach at the global and EU level”. The star player of Labour’s football team has scored a spectacular own-goal.”

Do they really think that Labour supporters are too stupid to notice the about turn?

UPDATE : Maybe not, LabourHome is mocking Balls’ conversion.

Peston "Fisks" Marrs Brown Interview

The BBC’s business editor Robert Peston, currently the object of the frustrations of a substantial number of City fund managers who think he should be done for creating a false market in HBOS, has fisked yesterday’s Marr interview with Gordon.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

Since You Asked….

Yes, Guido’s FTSE short got whacked. Had a stop-loss at 5200, so the pain ended some 250 points after the Mother of All Bail-Outs was announced by Comrade Paulson. Don’t shed too many tears for Guido, the short was

[…]

+ READ MORE +

See If Gordon’s Sums Add Up

Give it a go here.

[…]

+ READ MORE +

"Hello is That the FSA?"

If Lloyds Bank’s Victor Blank was talking to Gordon Brown about take-over plans for HBOS at a cocktail party wasn’t he breaking the takeover code’s strict rules on secrecy? Shouldn’t somebody report them?
Yesterday the headlines said “Gordon Brown orders

[…]

+ READ MORE +



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