I have been elevated to a project all of my own by Hopi Sen,  a position of some responsibility, and one that if anything increases the pressure to opinionize on every thing that ever happens, economics-wise.  Hence (again from Hopi) my views on a new letter calling for more fiscal stimulus.

They are the same as Hopi’s; the time has passed, just for dirty political realism reasons.  There need to be other ways of stimulating the economy.  When the deficit is at 13%  – and G Brown can be blamed for some of thatthen you just don’t have wiggle room. My favourite method is in the Anatole Kaletsky column today – order the Bank to target growth.  I explain why in Credit Where It’s Due.  To put it simply: by having this target, the Bank can far more easily promise that rates will be easy for much longer.  That sort of promise is what investors in particular need to actually make stimulative investments.   They don’t want to be caught trousers-down in another liquidity crunch a year later.

And as Hopi points out the stimulus the letter writers are after seems awfully long term.  Not hitting the sore spot we may be about to go through.

It is not comfortable being on the same side as Iain Dale now.  If the government had held its nerve last April they might have done more – but they lost their bottle, partly because of negative comments from Mervyn King in March 2009 – which now seems particularly ill-judged.

In other news: more people seem to agree with my stance on Total Politics interviewing the BNP than I expected – including Sundar.  I don’t get how sending them to Coventry is either good tactics – it makes them martyrs – or brave.  And boycotting top blog awards just hurts your ability to become, um, top blogs.

And on the subject of politically incorrect views about stuff, this column in the FT bravely takes on those who think it is axiomatic that the Iraq war was evil:

As proof of the Iraq invasion’s wickedness, critics invoke the civilian death toll, soberly reckoned at 100,000-150,000. But Europe’s liberation from Nazi domination cost the lives of 70,000 French civilians and 500,000 German ones through bombing; and, whereas this was the direct responsibility of the British and Americans, most Iraqi civilians were killed by foreign or native insurgents. Yes, the occupying powers were obliged to maintain law and order, and failed initially. But the insurgents were obliged not to send suicide bombers into crowded market places, and they have failed persistently …

Finally I have no doubt that the Spectator has misrepresented Clegg with a blue flower in his mouth.   I know him well enough to say that his values are very far apart from those of Thatcher.  But nothing will induce me to buy the Spectator, still by far the best advert for the Anything But the Tories Party (c) I have ever seen.  I will have to wait till LibCon publishes its analysis of the actual interview.

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9 thoughts on “A one man project speaks

  1. If you want growth for anything but the very short term the money supply is not a sensible tool to use. You want to cut government parasitism both in the amount of money it takes out of the productive economy & even more importantly in the ways it makes things illegal or uncompetitively expensive. We could have world leading growth tomorrow by letting nuclear power station builders build, ditto housebuilders, roadbuilders etc, by getting rid of the most H&S rules & cutting corporation tax. Or can anybody say why that wouldn’t work?

    Any growth caused by letting the BofE print money will be more than paid for in due course.

    1. @Neil

      Ah….’productive’ ?

      The Big Lie which is the dominant narrative based upon the fact that ‘productivity’ is defined by the owner/shareholder/rentier, to whom everything other than profit denominated in fiat currency is a ‘cost’ to be cut.

      It’s bollocks of course.

      From the point of view of the nurse and the teacher, the civil servant and the shopkeeper, the staff and the supplier; the entrepreneur; and not forgetting the patient or passenger aka the ‘customer’ ; it is the rentier owner of ‘equity’ in wealth who is ‘unproductive’ and essentially parasitic.

      But it is not their perspective which frames the narrative is it? Because the rentier class own the media and hence the message.

      There are indeed many ‘unproductive’ people in public service, typically the managerial class which has infested it like Japanese knotweed, but this pales into insignificance against the shoals of vampire squid in the financial sector who bleed the economy dry and have the temerity to tell us that THEY are the productive ones, rather than the productive private and public sectors they feed on.

      They pick our pocket and then tell us we should be pleased to have the empty wallet back as tax.

  2. Congrats on becoming a one man project 🙂

    That column on Iraq is absolutely terrible – it’s not that “politically incorrect”, given that it is basically a regurgitation of the standard line held by the leadership of the Labour Party, Conservative Party, Republican Party and much of the Democratic Party.

    If you haven’t read it, you would enjoy ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’, about how the reconstruction of Iraq was handed over to donors to the Republican Party – leading to things like the college graduates who had a go at setting up a stock exchange, with predictable and tragi-comic results.

    The stuff about what if there had been a nuclear war if we hadn’t invaded is proper science fiction.

    1. Is it terrible because it agrees with three major parties, and if so is it because those guys are obviously wrong about this, or because to do so is really unoriginal (right or wrong)?

      I have perhaps too much sympathy with the executive side – the side of this that has to deal with ex-ante uncertainty, and the consequences not only of actions, but of omissions and failures to act. In comparison, the commentary job and the ex-post quarterbacking is a pretty easy job.

      I am not saying that I agree with everything in the column; just that I hate really important premises being assumed rather than proven, and in this case the debate about Iraq (the ‘jail Blair’ debate) seems to use as its starting premise “Given that the Iraq war was a totally unnecessary and avoidable crime that was entered into for shifty reasons, who should we hang?”

      I am maybe also biased because I voted Blair 97 01 05, and hate to be shown to have made mistakes ….

      1. Well, I’m not sure it is all that “brave” to make the same argument that e.g. Tony Blair, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, George Bush and Hilary Clinton have all made over the past few years!

        I don’t have any time for the “hang Blair” etc argument, but really important premises being assumed rather than proven was one of the big problems with the whole decision to go to war.

        The wonderful Decentpedia provides an excellent summary of the key arguments made by the FT column:

        http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2007/12/nobody-couldve-predicted.html
        http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2007/08/failures-in-reconstruction-process.html
        http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2008/03/alternative-iraq.html
        http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2007/08/terrorists-are-bad.html
        http://decentpedia.blogspot.com/2007/08/mea-culpa-sed-tu-quoque-ad-maximum.html

      2. woah, thanks for those. I will have to bookmark them for now.

        Maybe my reading is skewed, but I found the article different from the current dominant narrative, which is more as I parody – maybe I read too much anti-War stuff. Given the horror of any single death, any decisions that produce death are horrible, and only with context and counterfactual can they ever be justified.

        By the way, what does that Alternative Iraq piece show? Is the HRM figure for 400,000 Iraqis murdered by Saddam in 1988-2003 an exaggeration? Honest question.

  3. According to the reporting of the interview, Clegg cites Thatcher’s tackling of the unions as the chief positive point. I thought most Liberal Democrats accepted, however begrudgingly, that on that narrow point, she did what had to be done?

    1. I agree. I think the ‘who can hate Thatcher most’ badge of honour is a bit misguided on that one. An advantage of not being tribal Labour

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