I was among the guests on The Long View, which debated the past and present of the national debt.  Here, I think, is the recording. If that link doesn’t work, then this is the homepage of the programme.

You can guess my views: calm down about the deficit hysteria, dears.  I think Will Hutton and I were singing from the same hymn sheet; Andrew Lilico and Niall Ferguson were on the side of those thinking we’re doomed, doomed I tell you….  According to NF, no country save Japan has ever got as indebted as Britain.  In a single thought, he managed to conflate the private households debts of the UK with the domestically-owned government debts of the Japanese, the owners of neither of which demand more than 4% for lending the money.  Crisis?

Praise be: they got my refutation of Niall Ferguson’s views in (at 24 minutes).  Fantastic.


16 thoughts on “The Long View: Radio Fame

    1. working a wine tasting! That was MY first job out of uni! I think it was Chablis vs Sancerre night in Cheltenham

      Hope you like it. I found relistening to NF rather trying….

    1. Actually the very first paying job was picking garlic, on the Isle of Wight.

      I weighed in against NF on the never-read blog Freethink. I took his silence to be proof of my rightness

      1. My first post uni job was reworking TV set top boxes. Check for rust, unscrew the back, take out the circuit board, change the screws for rubber dampeners, put together, put on stickers, double check. Repeat…. FOREVER, well the same 15 minutes of my life repeated for 3 months. Urgh…

        This tasting is just an extension of my normal customer service role at a wine company.

  1. Will Hutton`s point about managing the balance between public and private debt is surely the crux of the whole problem. If you try to stamp out private debt overnight, there really will be social consequences. I don`t know about blood in the streets (Why does Niall Ferguson think Athens is more dangerous than parts of the UK? He should try central Cardiff on a Saturday night if he wants to see blood.)- but what is for sure is that kids with credit cards aren`t going to give up those privileges easily.
    Well done Giles Wilkes. I do remain (somewhat sceptically) a Tory but then I don`t really think they intend to rein us in any more than Mr Darling and Co. Probably the best thing would be for Gordon to threaten he will bash us up if we spend too much. This would promote a new debate about economic bullies.

  2. Chablis vs Sancerre?! That’s two different grapes; odd to have them up against each other as a comparison. Or was that just an excuse?
    Anyway, ta again for your email this afternoon – I think I’ve convinced a couple of students to become regular readers here now…

    1. Oh, it is, isn’t it? I stand corrected: it was Pouilly Fume and Sancerre, I think.

      Personally, I am a wine sceptic, and see it as a classic conspicuous consumption good.

      really glad to have your team reading. I sometimes wonder whether people care about the monetary stuff. I’m teaching myself as I go along too!



      1. Oooh, left bank/right bank.

        It is all about conspicuous consumption, well not all, but it is definitely some sort of positional/status good.

        You get people who will slag off chardonnay all day long because it was quite the common quintessentially 1980s drink (and in fairness a lot of it was poor) but those same people (guaranteed) will say how much they love Chablis which is made out of bloody chardonnay but because it is French it is oh so classy.

        But then working in customer service does give you an enduring hatred of the Great British Public, so it could just be sour grapes (ba dum ch)

    2. Maybe choosing two wines each made from a single, but different, grape variety makes for an interesting compare/contrast? But isn’t it quite rare for a french wine to be made from a single variety? Or maybe I only think that because I usually drink claret. :oP

      Re: NF, I feel very let down – one of my lecturers when I was an undergrad (not long ago) raved about The Ascent of Money, so I assumed he was good, but everywhere I’ve looked is *extremely* vague about his economics training – that never bodes well.

      1. What I hear about Niall Ferguson is that each subsequent book is worse. It sounds possible. I read the Cash Nexus and was flabberghasted by the casual logic and how much it seemed to take from one other book at times.

        Now I feel even more ignorant about wine…

  3. It seemed to me that Stephanie Flanders’ point right at the end was a really telling one. The effects of this recession have so far been significantly cushioned by the large size of the public sector workforce that has mushroomed under Labour in recent years, and, to a large extent, are its client state-within-a-state. When the cuts come and government departments and local councils starts handing out masses of redundancy notices, that will be when the recession really starts to bite, and when the economy could really start entering a tail-spin. The government department where I work has been told to make provisions for cuts of anything from 10-20 per cent.

    Is there really any way out of this? Britain and the rest of Europe (not to mention the USA) are powers entering a period of ever steepening decline. Is there really any prospect of us exporting our way out of this mess in the face of the fierce competition posed by the emerging economies in Asia and parts of Latin America?

    Things might not be quite so bad if we had a decent education system. But here, too, the decline seems terminal, and Blair triple mantra has been subsumed in a web of spin and misplaced sensitivity.

    Sorry to be so miserabilist, but it really is difficult to find any reasons for long-term optimism.

    1. I agree entirely with your first paragraph. It will be unbelievably painful. I can only say that: we are still a very rich country with high quality of life; public sector provision of services is not everything; tighter budgets make it easier to innovate and improve delivery; our ‘decline’ is the decline of a really highly paid professional wondering about the larger income increases of a much lower paid manual worker.

      I personally think education is one of our great exports. But innovations need to come….

  4. Maybe that’s why you’re a wine sceptic, no-one I know goes in for conspicuous consumption, but maybe I just know the right people. 🙂

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