Whenever Gordon Brown’s favourite former appointee to the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee, David Blanchflower, makes a prediction, it’s probably a safe bet to expect the exact opposite to come true. Back in 2009 the out-of-luck economist looked into his evidently faulty crystal ball and predicted that unemployment would top 5 million if the Tories came into power. As of yesterday it stands at 2.53 million and falling. David is very nearly 100% wrong – quite a wide margin of error.
He forecast that unemployment would surge past 3 million to 3.4 million in 2010. It peaked at 2.5 million in 2010.
On Tuesday Blanchflower was at it again, wagering that the new set of unemployment figures would bring bad news:
i fully expect an increase in unemployment tomorrow
— Danny Blanchflower (@D_Blanchflower) October 17, 2012
Lo and behold once again the opposite happened, with unemployment dropping by 50,000 to below 8%. Keep trying David, you might get one right eventually…
Remember when Vince Cable warned that Quantitative Easing (QE) was “Mugabenomics”? Vince flip-flopped on that even before he joined the coalition. Guido remembers when George Osborne said “Printing money is the last resort of desperate governments when all other policies have failed.” In government Osborne has overseen the printing of more money than any other Chancellor in British history. A quarter of the national debt – all this government’s overspending – has been bought by the Bank of England via QE. Guido warned against this madness in 2008…
So it is not a shock that inflation in Zimbabwe (3.63%) is now lower than inflation in the UK (3.66%, August 2011-July 2012). Gold is good.
As we predicted beforehand, the Jonah effect wiped over 100 points off the value of the Dow and saw the NASDAQ experience its worst day since June. If you watch the video closely you’ll see that he even screwed up “ringing the bell” to open Wall Street.
He’s still the accursed one-eyed son of the manse…
Two-faced Chuka Umunna is forever banging on about the need for “responsible capitalism”. Chuka might be keen to bash the bankers in public, yet the latest update to the Register of Members’ Interests shows that the Streatham MP pocketed a generous donation of £6,030 from a financial services company to sponsor his summer party in July:
Realtime Analysis and News are better known to day traders and other running dogs of casino capitalism as RANsquawk, an extremely profitable online service set-up by City whizz-kids providing tips and rumours to traders. They promise to provide “rumours that may move the market”. Responsible capitalism in action.
As impressive a service as this sounds to Guido, it does seem like the sort of thing Chuka had in mind when he was attacking the City’s “casino culture”. With Chuka he has the trick of saying one thing to one audience and something very different to another when their backs are turned…
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, told a press conference following the meeting of the ECB Governing Council in Frankfurt this afternoon that “the euro is irreversible”. Asked by the media what he meant by that he exclaimed to much laughter “It stays, it stays, it stays. It’s pointless to bet against the euro, it’s pointless to go short on the euro.” From the beginning of the press conference to the end the € fell 200 pips against the $, so he was proved factually incorrect before he even finished speaking.
At the end of the press conference Spanish yields were back over 7%, capital flowed into German bunds as a safe haven, trading in Italian bank stocks was halted, the euro had pointedly rewarded those who were short and bet against it, costing the ECB a lot of credibility. Spain has now been told it will, like Greece, have to formally ask for a bailout on austere German terms. The can has been kicked down the road again, the end of the road however is in sight…
Keynesian economics stripped bare…
Simon Jenkins is uneasy about Quantitative Easing…
“The Bank of England quarterly bulletin is full of QE theology. Its report on a recent conference on the subject is pure angels on pinheads.”
This morning the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet and in all likelihood order another £50 billion of Quantitative Easing, or money printing. This will again be used to buy government bonds, artifically holding down long term interest rates. This deliberate policy is approved by George Osborne and allows the Treasury to finance government over-spending via sales of government gilts to the Bank of England. It robs the old of the value of their savings and the young who will have to finance the future taxation which the government has effectively deferred.
This monetary experiment will have totalled some £375 billion, it is unprecedented in scale and there is no clear exit strategy to unwind QE. The Bank of England’s balance sheet is now loaded up with gilts that were not sold in the open market, holding down interest rates and allowing George Osborne to point to the bond market and claim the UK is a safe haven. In reality we have an artificial bubble in the bond markets that could pop disastrously if confidence was lost. If it goes wrong, we will look back on QE as the biggest rate-fixing scandal of all time.
Downing Street are drawing attention to this email in Barclay’s evidence to tomorrow’s Treasury Select Committee:
“Mr Tucker stated the levels of calls he was receiving from Whitehall were ‘senior’ and that while he was certain we did not need advice, that it did not always need to be the case that we appeared as high as we have recently.”
As Guido said this morning, you have to distinguish between the nickle and dime LIBOR fixing scandal of traders trying to massage their end of day mark-to-market and the Treasury / FSA / Bank of England policy of fixing LIBOR. Tomorrow Bob Diamond is likely to point out that manipulation of LIBOR rates was in the national interest and sanctioned by Downing Street and the regulators.
Gordon Brown’s Downing Street economic adviser Shriti Vadera was driving the policy…
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Alan Milburn says Labour’s scaremongering campaign for an unreformed NHS will not win election…
“It would be a fatal mistake, in my view, for Labour to go into this election looking as though it is the party that would better resource the National Health Service but not necessarily put its foot to the floor when it comes to reforming. Look, reforms are not easy, but the Labour Party is not a conservative party. It should be about moving things forward not preserving them in aspic. You have got a pale imitation actually of the 1992 general election campaign, and maybe it will have the same outcome. I don’t know.”