What are the Chances of the IMF Bailing Out Britain?

Brown says Cameron is “ridiculous” to talk about the possibility of the International Monetary Fund being called in to bail-out Britain. Brown reckons that is impossible.

The money markets though say different, clearly they think it is a possibility. How probable is a bail-out? Guido listened on Wednesday to Gerard Lyons, Chief Economist at Standard Chartered, Geoffrey Wood, an economist at Cass Business School and Paul Ormerod, author of Why Most Things Fail: Evolution, Extinction and Economics talk at a Policy Exchange seminar on the Credit Crunch. They were far more sanguine about the economic prospects than Guido. Essentially they thought the recession would run its course over a year or two and we would come out of it with a huge bill in terms of the national debt. The consensus was that Britain probably wouldn’t be humiliated at the IMF again, but it wasn’t impossible. Some joked that if we were going to have to go to the IMF we should get to the front of the queue.

Given most of Britain’s external debt is denominated in pounds, the way to avoid going completely bust is to print more money and devalue the debt. Which is what the markets expect to happen, hence they are dumping pounds…

Economics is a dismal science, but playing www.BailoutBrown.com is a bit more fun. Enjoy throwing your money at Brown for a change…

UPDATE 26 Jan, ’09 : Paul Ormerod emails to correct the impression that he isn’t pessimistic:

I am a great fan of your site. I am sorry you thought I wasn’t pessimistic enough at the Policy Exchange, I thought I was being. I did, for example talk about a 6 per cent switch in GDP purely through consumer attitudes, and on top of this is the impact of tight credit on the corporate sector. So I think things are pretty grim.




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