In His Mind Brown Solved the Housing Bubble Crisis in 2005

Alex Barker in the FT yesterday drew our attention to Gordon’s hubristic 2005 speech to the Labour Party conference where he claimed to dealt with the house price bubble:

Why has it been that at every point since 1997 faced with the Asian crisis, the IT collapse, a stock exchange crash, an American recession, last year a house price bubble, this year rising world oil prices, why has it been that at every point since 1997 Britain uniquely has continued to grow?

In any other decade, a house price bubble would have pushed Britain from boom to bust….

I tell you, it is because with Bank of England independence, cutting debt, fiscal discipline and the New Deal this Labour government has shown the strength to take the tough long-term decisions, that inflation is low, interest rates are low, growth has been sustained in every year, and we are closer than ever to the goal which drives us forward: the goal of full employment for our generation.

Labour, the natural party for economic strength in our country today.

The hubris and the lies – fiscal discipline is a joke, Gordon has presided over fiscal incontinence on an unprecedented scale, the too low interest rates because he excluded house prices from inflation targeting will prove to have been the key determinant of Gordon’s bubble. Inflation was not so low if you included house prices. Gordon can’t blame that on anyone else, it wasn’t an American finance minister who made that policy choice…

UPDATE : Unemployment is now higher than when Labour came into office. It is a fact that unemployment has always ended up higher when Labour is voted out than when it is voted in. Just as every Labour government has ended in financial crisis.

Darling Lets the Cat Out of the Bag

Tessa Jowell went wildly off message yesterday and said that Britain is facing a recession “deeper than any that we have known”. Another significant admission from Chancellor Darling suggests we are perhaps not best placed to weather the global financial turbulence: “We are going to be affected more substantially in relation to the loss of revenues that we are now experiencing because of the lack of profitability in the financial services sector. London is the major financial services sector in the world… Of course we are more likely to be more severely affected as a result [of] profitability being reduced… We are also affected by the downturn in the housing market because of reduced revenues in relation to stamp duty”.

He might also have added that because we are so over-indebted, it will be that much more difficult to recover economic growth.Via Paul Waugh

For You Herr Brown, the Boom is Over

Steffen Kampeter, is the budget spokesman for Merkel’s CDU, last night he backed Peer Steinbrück (the SPD finance minister), saying he was “exactly expressing” the views of the government. Yesterday Balls and Brown were spinning bullshit saying that this was internal German coalition politics – in fact it is the shared view of both the CDU and the SPD.

Kampeter put the boot into Crash Gordon: “Peer Steinbrück’s comments have nothing whatsoever to do with internal German politics as Prime Minister Brown has suggested. In questioning the British Government’s approach, Peer Steinbrück is exactly expressing the views of the German Grand Coalition. After years of lecturing us on how we need to share in the gains of uncontrolled financial markets, the Labour politicians can’t now expect us to share in it’s losses. The tremendous amount of debt being offered by Britain shows a complete failure of Labour policy.”

Something Odd in the Banking Bill

Guido is suspicious about this seemingly innocuous amendment in the new Banking Bill:

Banking Bill
Part 7 — Miscellaneous

Weekly return

Section 6 of the Bank Charter Act 1844 (Bank to produce weekly account) shall cease to have effect.
The 1844 Banking Bill ensured transparency in the operations of the Bank of England. It has been good enough for over 164 years.The section the new Banking Bill seeks to abolish reads as follows:

And be it enacted, That an Account of the Amount of Bank of England Notes issued by the Issue Department of the Bank of England, and of Gold Coin and of Gold and Silver Bullion respectively, and of Securities in the said Issue Department, and also an Account of the Capital Stock, and the Deposits, and of the Money and Securities belonging to the said Governor and Company in the Banking Department of the Bank of England, on some Day in every Week to be fixed by the Commissioners of Stamps and Taxes, shall be transmitted by the said Governor and Company weekly to the said Commissioners in the Form prescribed in the Schedule hereto annexed marked (A.), and shall be published….

Surely it can’t be that they don’t want us to know how fast the Bank of England’s printing presses are going to be running?

Banks Have to Make a Profit

As the politicians all start to bash the banks for not passing on the full rate cut, Guido asks how can the recapitalisation of the banking system be successful if they don’t make a profit? This is the danger with quasi-nationalisation – once you start putting political considerations before commercial imperatives, banks will be perpetually loss-making burdens on the taxpayer.

The fact is the banks have to earn a spread from the rate they lend against the rate they borrow, otherwise you get into the Northern Rock position with the cost of borrowing exceeding the return on lending. Politicians will nevertheless huff and puff regardless of reality.

UPDATE : The government is going to force banks to double their holdings of government bonds, supposedly to increase their “liquidity reserves”. Handy when the government is desperate to find buyers for gilts to keep itself afloat. If they have to buy gilts, it will make it even more difficult for banks to extend credit to corporate borrowers… doh!

The Run on the Pound

Yesterday sterling had the biggest drop it has had since it was forced out of the ERM on White Wednesday in 1992. The pound was down 4% at $1.48 and it fell 2.9% against the euro and tumbled 4.8% versus the yen. It just goes to show how bad Britain’s situation is that this isn’t even front page news on every paper.

UPDATE : This just in from a co-conspirator:

Hello Guido,
I’ve been perusing the great work of fiction that is Gordy’s oops, the Chancellor’s growth forecasts, and on page 1 of Annex A: The Economy we have this bullet-pointed gem:

‘UK GDP growth of 3/4 % for 2008 with the economy contracting in the second half of the year’

Now, when the chancellor stood up at the dispatch box, three quarters of 2008 GDP growth were known:

Q1 0.3%
Q2 0%
Q3 -0.5%

In order to hit the forecast 0.75%, the economy has to grow at feisty 1% in the fourth quarter. Has the Chancellor been outside recently?

Is it any wonder that foreign investors have lost confidence in Britain, Gordon has missed his GDP growth forecasts every year since 2006. The Chancellor makes fantasy forecasts that no one believes, least of all HM Treasury, does he really expect GDP to surge this quarter?

UPDATE II : Some querying via email of how the GDP quarterly statistics are precisely computed by someone who seems to know what they are talking about; “There are lies, damned lies and statistics”.

Zimbabwean Central Bank Endorses UK Policies on Banking

Some people got upset when Guido compared Britain to Zimbabwe, in defence it should be borne in mind that making the comparison does not belittle the suffering of the Zimbabweans. It seems Zimbabweans too are making the comparison; no doubt Gordon (and Vince Cable) will be cheered by this endorsement from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe:

As Monetary Authorities, we have been humbled and have taken heart in the realization that some leading Central Banks, including those in the USA and the UK, are now not just talking of, but also actually implementing flexible and pragmatic central bank support programmes where these are deemed necessary in their National interests.

That is precisely the path that we began over 4 years ago in pursuit of our own national interest and we have not wavered on that critical path despite the untold misunderstanding, vilification and demonization we have endured from across the political divide.

….leading central banks in the global economy are bailing out troubled economic sectors to achieve macroeconomic and financial stability….the Bank of England… providing a £50 billion lifeline to the UK’s banking sector.

Here in Zimbabwe we had our near-bank failures a few years ago and we responded by providing the affected Banks with the Troubled Bank Fund (TBF) for which we were heavily criticized even by some multi-lateral institutions who today are silent when the Central Banks of UK and USA are going the same way and doing the same thing under very similar circumstances thereby continuing the unfortunate hypocrisy that what’s good for goose is not good for the gander….

As Monetary Authorities, we commend those of our peers, the world over, who have now seen the light on the need for the adoption of flexible and practical interventions and support to key sectors of the economy when faced with unusual circumstances.

They seem to think that Gordon, far from leading the world, is copying Mugabonomics. They may have a point

Via : Naked Capitalism

Bad News, Good News

With a load of economic data out this morning the pound is off 1% against the euro, the Purchasing Managers Index is down sharply, mortgage lending is down 70% year on year, credit card borrowing is up, PWC have research out saying Briton’s are now personally £1.5 trillion in debt – yet Gordon wants them to spend, spend, spend more.

It is not all bad news though, Guido is short the FTSE….

+++ London Scottish Bank Bust +++

Official Stock Exchange announcement that after 100 years of trading it is in administration here. Metaphorical allegory in there somewhere.

Firm Support for Beer Tax Cut

It makes Guido choke on his Guinness that Gordon gets over a quid every time he buys a pint. 33% of the cost of a pint is tax – which alone must mean that Guido is a higher rate taxpayer.

This was the scene this morning in Westminster where Jennifer Ellison was pulling pints, Kym Marsh stayed up north in her local. Guido isn’t bitter or at all disappointed that Jennifer took her place…

You can show your support for the Save the Pub campaign by visiting their website and emailing your local MP. If they can cut tax on scotch they can cut tax on a pint.

UPDATE : By popular request, larger picture. It makes you go blind you know…

Italian and German Governments Cautious on Fiscal Stimulus

Labour’s spin line repeated incessantly is that the Tories are a “do nothing” party, Mandelson’s genius with a soundbite for the frontbench to chant shows. Leaving aside whether it is better to do nothing than do the expensive wrong thing, is it really true that the rest of the world is going down the path of massive fiscal stimulus?

Labour’s benches laughed arrogantly when the Tories retorted that little Ireland and Latvia were taking a Cameroon path. However, bigger European right-of-centre governments in Germany and Italy are not, contrary to Gordon’s claims, embarking on massive fiscal stimulus programmes. Poul Nyrup Rasmussen, the Danish Socialist party leader in the European parliament is complaining that “Angela Merkel and other conservative leaders such as Berlusconi may well water down the plan and refuse to make the necessary national investments…”. The “plan” is the European Commission’s €200 billion fiscal splurge proposal. Another top down taxpayer funded folly.

Gordon, in full on Global Saviour delusional mode at PMQs yesterday, claimed that everyone backs fiscal stimulus except the British Tories. If you don’t read the foreign news you might believe him. The fact is that across the world left of centre politicians back that approach, right of centre politicians are more sceptical. The need to be seen to “do something” means that right of centre governments are doing token symbolic gestures. Mandelson knows that philosophically the conservatives are wary and is capitalising on this with the “do nothing” soundbite.

Confidence won’t return until the property market bottoms out first, corporate balance sheets are recapitalised and personal indebtness reduced. Governments can do nothing to force those things to happen. Politicians just can’t accept their impotence.

+++ MFI & Woolies Bust +++

Bankruptcy was not entirely unexpected in the case of these two ailing retailers. Despite Mandelson pleading with Woolies’ bankers into the early hours of this morning they pulled the plug regardless. Tuppence off prices won’t make much difference for them.

Keen readers will notice the change to the portfolio on the right hand side for the first time in a month. Guido has just shorted FTSE futures and Dow futures. Combination of bad local news and a sense that there is a mood of bailout fatigue in the U.S. There is usually a “Santa Claus rally” in the markets at year end. Not sure Santa is going to come this year…

Research: Kaiser was Less Expensive Enemy than Brown

The Taxpayers’ Alliance has done the research leg-work and confirms that Brown’s debt bubble is twice what it cost to defeat the Kaiser.*

Total Debt increase 1914 – 1919 (2007 value):

£255,106,544,018

Total Debt planned 2008/09 – 2013/14 (PBR):

£512,000,000,000

(For full methodology, see Sources & Methodology)

*They are trying to find reliable data for the cost of WWII at the moment.

People Will Bail Out of Bail Out States

Jack Thurston, a former special adviser to Gordon’s enforcer Nick Brown, and one of early New Labour’s more cerebral types, writes in this morning’s Wall Street Journal of the perils ofA Permanent Bailout. Even a perennial optimist like Guido wonders if we are finally seeing the the delayed end of the twentieth century era of Anglo-American global dominance as predicted by the CIA. The economies of the U.K. and the U.S.A. are being burdened with government debts of epic proportions, our children (and their children as well) will be indentured tax slaves.

Hyperbole? The government bond markets will enslave the citizens and subjects who pay the taxes that service their demands as surely as feudal barons demanded their lands were ploughed for their table by serfs. It is stunning that Brown’s policies have cost HM Treasury, in real terms, more than it took to defeat the Luftwaffe and the Wehrmacht. The debt obligations of the state will be £2 trillion within a few years, Gordon ignores the unfunded pensions of his bloated public sector bureaucracy and admits to “only” £1 trillion. The long term consequences of a debt burden as great as this are that Britain will have a permanently low growth economy. If, as is most likely, predominantly foreign investors hold government bonds, higher taxes will reduce the available capital which can be put to productive use in the domestic economy because the interest paid is exported. That is if they are not too worried about Britain going bust to invest at all. The chart above (click to enlarge) shows the cost of insuring in the credit default swap market against the U.K. government going bust is nearly triple the German rate. British Gilts are becoming the junk bonds of the G7.

Do people want to live in a country designed by Gordon Brown, as cheered on this morning by Polly Toynbee, Will Hutton and Roy Hattersley? Is there a prospect on the horizon of a radical government which can arrest the inevitable decline? Is there a Thatcher-like political leader who can turn around the super-taxer-tanker of state? Guido suspects a lot of internationally mobile people will be weighing up the prospects and possibly heading for the exits soon.

UPDATE : From The Times this morning; “In recent years, thousands of educated Australians have come to the UK. Immigration has been the start of a career, not a gap year, it adds. So there should be some alarm at the fact that they are heading back home in ever larger numbers: 2,700 a month compared to 1,750 a month in 2005. This is largely a vote of no confidence in the old country.”

Australia runs a budget surplus, has paid down the national debt in the good years and welcomes skilled migrants. Form an orderly queue.

Gordonomics : Higher Taxes, Nationalisations, Property Price Collapse, Printing Money, More Government Borrowing, Economic Bust

Guido is not a fanatical gold bug, but in times of crisis gold is the timeless refuge. This is the gold/£ price chart for this year, showing gold has proven to be a sound investment. As Gordon takes the Mugabe option this has only one way to go. Without the restraining hand of Tony Blair socialism is back from the dead cheered on by Labour’s zombies. Gordon’s latest plan to bleed high earners means that the best will be driven from British shores just as they were in the seventies.

Ireland, which is taking the austerity route out of the crisis, slashing government spending, is attracting an entirely private sector solution to recapitalising banks. Property prices are becoming reasonable, tax rates are lower and big British run businesses are relocating to Ireland.

Ireland will probably be out of recession long before an economy crippled by Brown starts to recover – whoever wins the next election.

UPDATE : Ireland’s new finance bill is changing the law to entice non-doms to move from London to Ireland.

Fear and Loathing in Leeds

Guido hears that the Cabinet will be meeting in Leeds on Friday – same drill as the last time in Brum – the public in the form of carefully chosen invitees, mostly from the public sector, will be the backdrop for a Potemkin Village show for the evening news.

Local large private businesses must be in fear that the cabinet will visit. Since the Birmingham Cabinet meeting when Gordon visited Jaguar the company’s sales have collapsed. Jaguar’s parent company JLR is now begging the government for a £1 billion loan. The accursed one-eyed son of the manse is considering it…

Northern Rock Sinking Taxpayers II

As Guido reported Thursday and all the papers followed up yesterday – Northern Rock’s £35 billion Granite Trust is in trouble, buried in the financial jargon is one important note – the percentage of delinquent loans relative to the value of mortgages in the trust rose above pre-set levels. Three different arrears triggers have been breached – remember how Brown and Darling blatantly lied that the taxpayer’s money was secured by the mortgage assets of the bank? Guido repeatedly argued that the only assets of the bank were in its branches. Net-net, the loan book will turn out to be near enough worthless or even negative in value.

The £3 billion of capital injected by the government in August can be kissed goodbye, another £3 billion will be needed soon and that will almost certainly go up in smoke as well. Well done to Vince Cable for giving the government such fulsome support in wasting billions- 28 million taxpayers won’t thank you.

This is an amount enough to give every income-tax payer in the country a £1000 reduction for a year. A targeted fiscal stimulus. What exactly is the taxpayer gaining for subsidising the winding up of Northern Rock?

Liquidity Issues – Wine Prices Going Down?

During the tech boom in the late nineties Guido was buying wine faster than he could drink it (for once). When the tech collapse halved Guido’s net worth he drank all the wine rather than see it, errm, depreciate. Seemed sensible at the time. This time Guido thinks he should just get short the Wine index (which is exchange traded) and drink the profits.

Unfunded Government Spending Up £1.4 billion in October

Public sector net debt (on the Treasury’s definition) rose to £640.9 billion, or 42.9% of GDP. This does not include other liabilities such as off-balance sheet public sector pension liabilities.

Unfunded government spending is getting worse as the economy nose-dives. it would have been much worse if wasn’t for the receipts from oil companies.

With oil back down to $50 a barrel that won’t be the case in the future…

Unfunded Spending and the End to Prosperity

Danny Finkelstein is fighting a proxy battle for his friend George Osborne, that is why advocates of tax cuts like of Fraser Nelson, Tim Montgomerie, Iain Dale, Dominic Lawson, Nick Clegg and Guido are so willing to battle with him on the blogs and rehearse the arguments.[…] Read the rest

+ READ MORE +



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Quote of the Day

Alan Sugar on Jeremy Corbyn:

“It’s clear you alluded to students refunds to get votes from young impressionable people. You are a cheat and should resign.”

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