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.




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