The Internet is back. I’m reswamped.

I had a semiWebFree day yesterday.  Some would hope this would be liberating, but of course we know it is not so; the stuff just accumulates unseen and unsorted.   I tend to feel very like Andrew in this excellent post here: simultaneously energised and stressed by having so much to want to read.

Were our forefathers really less informed, because they could not access public lectures, random blogthoughts, 78 newschannels and instant copies of Bank speeches from their desks?  I tend to think not.

Today I hope to read: two more Bank speeches; the Policy Exchange Tax document (ignoring their annoying insistence that the deficit crisis was caused by a sudden spending explosion, not the way budgeted revenues fell by about £120bn… it is bound to be an interesting piece), Greenspan’s Brooking’s Institute piece (he writes beautifully, does Alan), plus all the many things I have starred in my Google Reader about the Budget. And I promise not to load too much of this into Andrew’s must read pile.

Unless it is really essential of course.

In the meantime, stuff I find of note.  Brian Groom here seems to support some limited industrial intervention, even though he calls it Brown’s Strategic Re-election Fund:

Last week it was an £80m loan to Sheffield Forgemasters for a 15,000-tonne press to make nuclear reactor parts, a £20.7m grant for Nissan to build the Leaf electric car in Sunderland and a £360m loan guarantee for Ford to develop green engines … There you have it: 1970s redux, even if the interventions are aimed at the industries of the future.It chimes with the post-crisis mood but horrifies non-interventionists. My former colleague John Willman, in a Policy Exchange report, accused Lord Mandelson of slipping into “policies prevalent in continental Europe that have failed Britain in the past” … I suspect these sums, similar to traditional inward investment grants, are too small to cause serious market distortions, and Lord Mandelson has a point about unlocking investments that might otherwise not be made. The UK, he says, must learn from France, Germany, South Korea and Singapore.

Ed Conway highlights a radical idea that the Tories have been leading with – changing the way debt is taxed.  It is in Policy Exchange’s document.

Aditya thinks Britain has been led down a panda-style culdesac.  As Tim Worstall has observed, how very Austrian of the Guardian.  It is a profoundly worrying thought, and one I tend to disagree with.  I think the UK does mostly the right things.  We are not in the 1970s, trying to do stuff that globalisation is inexorably pulling the rug from.

On Free Exchange, it is reported that Joe Gagnon wants another $2 trillion of QE in the US, which he thinks has so far lowered long rates by 60bps.  Ryan Avent summarises my views in a nutshell:

Mr Gagnon hints at an important point. There are risks to stimulative actions by the government (debt concerns) and the Fed (inflation), and there is a risk to inaction (continued high unemployment, and consequent debt concerns). Of all the potential threats, inflation appears to be the most dormant and least troublesome.

This will delight you all: Simon Ward thinks UK bank profits may surpass their peak level soon.

The League of Ordinary Gentlemen continue their gentle and seemingly inadvertent destruction of Blond’s Red Toryism:

I have harbored two critiques of Blond. The first is that his economic theories were too vague, and potentially too protectionist. … The second critique is that Blond has been too hard on modernity and too Utopian in his prescriptions.

Blond and other critics of modernity and/or liberalism must also realize that to some degree no matter what change they achieve in society, it will not be a clean break with modernity, but rather a sort of fusion of these ideas with our now ingrained sense of liberalism and individualism and the like. In other words, the critique must go far beyond the political and infuse itself somehow into the culture itself. How on earth to do this in Britain where so few share Blond’s faith?

Published by freethinkingeconomist

I'm former special adviser (Downing Street 2017-19, BIS from 2010-14), former FT leader writer and Lex Columnist, former financial dealer (?) at IG, student of economic history, PPE like the rest of them, etc, and formerly in my mid-40s. This blog has large gaps for obvious reasons. The name is dumb - the CentreForum think tank blog was called Freethink, I adapted that, we are stuck now.

One thought on “The Internet is back. I’m reswamped.

  1. Giles you ask, “Were our forefathers really less informed.”

    Look what someone calling himself Common Sense ‘blogged’ on 23/12/1776:

    “These are the times that try men’s souls: The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as freedom should not be highly rated.”

    A year earlier a ‘post’ of his – under the identity of An Englishman and with the title Common Sense – reached a million people on two Continents.

    What could Tom Paine have achieved with the internet?

    And how much would you give to write like that day in and day out?


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