Friday, August 1, 2014

Reality Check for McPangloss

brilliant-balls

John McTernan must surely be nearing peak McPangloss in The Scotsman this morning…

“…today, no-one has ever doubted Ed Balls’s brilliance. What no-one could anticipate was quite how brilliantly he would grow into his role.”

Guido likes McTernan, he has a dry wit, with a certain concentrated menace that lurks in his soul, eager to be released. His new self-appointed role as a panglossian Labour media cheerleader just doesn’t suit him. He just goes over the top and humiliates himself.

For example, just before the European elections he told nervous Labour loyalists to relax, they were going to win the Euros. UKIP convincingly won the Euros…

Claiming no one doubts Ed Balls’s brilliance and events have proved Balls right is just silly. Half the shadow cabinet have their doubts, Ed Miliband did not even want to give the job to Balls – giving it at first to Alan Johnson. Most importantly and in direct contradiction to McTernan’s central thesis, as the economy recovers sceptical voters doubt even more the supposed wisdom of Ed Balls and have increasing confidence in George Osborne:

balls-osborne

Go back to attack, McPangloss, it is what you do, cheerleading just doesn’t suit you…

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Unemployment Rate Down to 6.8%

  • Unemployment rate down from 6.9% to 6.8%
  • Unemployment January-March down 133,000 to 2.2 million
  • Employment up 283,000 in quarter, biggest increase since records began in 1971
  • Claimant count at lowest since November 2008
  • Pay including bonuses for January-March 2014 was 1.7% higher than a year earlier, with pay excluding bonuses 1.3% higher
  • 140,000 Romanians and Bulgarians were in work in the UK in the three months after lifting of controls, down 4,000 on Q4 but up 28,000 on a year before

And the sun is even shining…

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Q1 GDP +0.8%: Figures in Full

  • GDP increased by 0.8% in Q1 2014 compared with growth of 0.7% in Q4 2013.
  • Output increased in three of the four main industrial groupings within the economy in Q1 2014 compared with Q4 2013. In order of their contribution, output increased by 0.9% in services, 0.8% in production and 0.3% in construction. However, output decreased by 0.7% in agriculture.
  • In Q1 2014 GDP was estimated to be 0.6% below the peak in Q1 2008. From peak to trough in 2009, the economy shrank by 7.2%.
  • GDP was 3.1% higher in Q1 2014 compared with the same quarter a year ago.

The fifth consecutive period of growth. But still smaller than the pre-crash figure by 0.6%, nearly six years on…

Friday, April 11, 2014

Osborne to IMF: I Told You So
Third Year of Expansionary Fiscal Contraction

osborne7

Chancellor Zero is no more. Growth is back, even the neo-Keynesians at the FT and the wonks at the IMF can’t deny that the UK expanded faster than the rest of the G7 last year and will probably do the same this year. George Osborne is in Washington today to gloat that

“despite warnings from some that our determined pursuit of our economic plan made that impossible. All of this demonstrates that fiscal consolidation and economic recovery go together, and undermines the pessimistic prognosis that only further fiscal stimulus can drive sustainable growth. Indeed that is precisely the wrong prescription for our economies…”

Ed Balls got it wrong is the core message. Labour will point to per capita GDP which is still 10% lower than it was in 2007 – that will be a second term objective for the Chancellor. Balls will less convincingly say George has missed his deficit target, less convincing because Labour would have missed it by more and opposed almost every measure needed to reduce the deficit. The neo-Keynesian argument that higher unemployment would increase the welfare bill and thus the deficit has been proven to be wrong. Unemployment is down from what it was under Gordon Brown, with the warnings from the likes of David Blanchflower of 4 to 5 million unemployed having turned out to be political hyperbole that has fatally damaged his career as a sage. That “expansionary fiscal contraction” that left-wing wonks and economists said would never come is entering a third year…

Leading left-wing wonk and wannabe Labour MP Will Straw argued in 2011 that Britain’s economy faced the risk of a Japanese-style “lost decade” and that “expansionary fiscal contraction” was a “voodoo theory”, and even that there was no such thing as an expansionary fiscal contraction. In 2011 Guido argued the point at length with Will on the BBC’s Daily Politics:

Having failed at the time to get an on-air apology from Will for his role in Gordon Brown’s Treasury, three years later he must now accept that he was wrong about a lost decade and wrong that there was no such thing as an expansionary fiscal contraction. Over to you Will – as growth is expected to hit 3% you have a second chance to offer an apology…

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Osborne’s Strict Discipline Leaves You Satisfied

As the Times reported on its front page today and Guido pointed out at the time, Osborne had the most obvious motive to want Maria Miller out. Today’s Evening Standard poll taken at the height of the Miller scandal shows Osborne does have still a strong approval rating and as a No. 11 source notes, the Miller distraction was “highly annoying”. Let’s see if that lasts when the cuts actually start…

The Standard / Ipsos Mori poll also has Farage as the only leader with a positive net satisfaction rate. That LibDem spin that the debates were good for Clegg unravels too, he is down 4% since last month…

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

When Osborne’s New Minister Told Him to “F**k Off”

Andrea Leadsom is Osborne’s new Economic Secretary to the Treasury. Which causes Guido to wonder just how sore the Chancellor still is about his polite chat with the then free-thinking backbencher back in 2011, when he tried to convince her not to join the Tory rebellion on Europe. Leadsom will be hoping her new boss forgave her polite instruction to him to “f**k off”…

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Miller Drowns Out Osborne’s Good Economic News

George Osborne must be furious that because of Maria Miller no one is talking about the IMF’s forecast that Britain will be the fastest growing leading economy this year. They have today announced their prediction that UK growth will reach 2.9%, the fastest in the G7, and then 2.5% in 2015. Also endorsing Osborne’s strategy for future growth:

“the government’s efforts to raise capital spending while staying within the medium-term fiscal envelope should help bolster recovery and long-term growth”

Yet because of one Cabinet minister grabbing all the headlines, this will go unnoticed by the vast majority of the public. As ConHome’s Mark Wallace points out:

“Ministers need to be able to get on with communicating the central messages that have the potential to deliver victory in 2015. If their interviews are constantly sidetracked into the question of Miller’s expenses, or their arguments are undermined by the presence in the cabinet of someone who demonstrably didn’t deliver the best value for the taxpayer, that becomes a serious problem.”

If Number 10 let this go on into recess it’ll be the only talking point on the doorstep for weeks…

UPDATE: Interestingly, Guido understands the IMF are refusing to let Olivier Blanchard, their chief economist who famously warned Osborne was playing with fire“, be interviewed by Sky News. Surely they aren’t worried about him putting his foot in it again…

Friday, March 21, 2014

Osborne Delivers Rapid Growth

Ephraim Hardcastle reckon the Chancellor has been reduced to extraordinary measures to hide his bald spot, reporting this morning that Osborne is now using hair loss treatments on a daily basis. The brown shoots of a recovery are beginning to show though it is clear George must not waver from his long term plan:

1p off the price of Alpecin at the next budget?

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Gove Outrider Attacks Osborne’s Budget

Henry de Zoete, the former DfE SpAd who was Michael Gove’s media man, has founded and runs an energy switching campaign called The Big Deal. It’s pretty clever – essentially a mass lobby organisation for lower energy prices. Interestingly Osborne had barely sat down by the time The Big Deal had sent out a press release “respond[-ing] sceptically” to the Chancellor’s Budget announcement that he would freeze the Carbon Floor Price, saying it “won’t help consumers” because of the Big Six and their nefarious ways. Gove wasn’t on the frontbench today, but lurked behind the Speaker’s chair instead…

Long Term Economic Graph
OBR Forecast 0.2% Surplus in 2018/19

The deficit will be 6.6% this year and 5.5% next year. That’s £108 billion this year, then £95 billion and £75 billion over the next two years. The OBR now forecasts a small surplus of 0.2% in 2018/19. Guido thinks these revised numbers will yet again be revised, but they’re strong enough to dangle in front of the voters in 2015.


Seen Elsewhere

Why Newmark Story Was Not Fishing Expedition | David Banks
Longlist to Succeed Hague | ConHome
Newmark Nonsense An Excuse to Bash Tabloids | Spiked
Kay Burley’s Top Twitter Zingers | Buzzfeed
Why Tory Tax Cut Pledge is Good News | Allister Heath
ONS Admits Economy Stronger Than It Thought | Speccie
Cameron’s Concessions to UKIP | Nick Wood
#TM4PM: It’s On | Speccie
Path to Defeat Obvious for Both Labour and Tories | Rafael Behr
It’s Boris v May | Sun
Farage is Outflanking the Tories | Guardian


VOTER-RECALL
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David Cameron on political promiscuity…

“On May 7 you could go to bed with Nigel Farage and wake up with Ed Miliband. Not one bit of that works for me.”



cynic says:

Can anyone help me? I went on holiday a week ago and returned to find someone has pulled out the stake and Gordon Brown is back and acting as Prime Minister. What did I miss? Has there been a snap election?


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