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June 23, 2010


Luis Enrique

If he had tried to justify his choice, rather than claim necessity, how would he have done it?

He'd have pointed to forecast deficits over the next few years, rising debt, and said we cannot go on "living beyond our means" ... i.e. trotted out pretty much the same story we've been hearing from the Austerians already. You might not be convinced by those arguments, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't be sufficient for political purpose.

So I'm not sure how different a world in which Osborne tries "to show that he’d made the right choice" is from the one we live in.

Tom Freeman

"Austerians" - if that's not a typo, it's cracking good wordplay.


Also, the Austerian position is basically common sense. Very little justification or legitimation needed. You can't spend money you don't have. At least not for very long. And the problems in the British economy are quite likely real: http://www.themoneyillusion.com/?p=5683

So I turn around the question. I think it is for the pro-deficit people to make a real case, rather than one based on weird Keynsian economic competence legitimation. Everyone understands the idea that you shouldn't go too far in debt.

Luis Enrique


sadly I am not the author of it:




You can 'spend money you don't have'. It's called 'borrowing'. There is nothing intrinsically wrong with borrowing/debt - it enables people to smooth consumption over their lifetime. But at the height of the UK, some households over-estimated their likely future income and took on too much debt. They are now struggling to pay down debt and rebuild saving. In this context, it's perfectly reasonable for a government to borrow to support demand. It can borrow over a longer period and at lower interest rates.

The issue in the UK is that we went into the recession with the public finances in poor shape. The debate is about how to restore the public finances to better health. Mr Osborne is prepared to risk a relapse in the economy with early, aggressive tightening. Others believe that restoring the economy to stronger growth, by accepting bigger deficits now, is the best way to achieve the longer-term objective of an improved budget. History suggests hasty fiscal contractions can do more harm than good (the 1930s, Japan in the 1990s).


I dont care who says what, but it is trite disingenious to say that the budget is designed to protect the poor while they are the ones who have to bear the brunt of the austerity measures.

We need to have an idea as to what kind of society we want. Should we build a caring society or should we look after the better off?



The graph at the bottom shows that, even leaving aside the question of who will be most hit by cuts to public services, the poorest 10% will lose a greater percentage of their income as a result of the budget than all but the richest 20% (those whom the Daily Mail rather misleadingly calls the 'middle classes')

Tom Addison

@ patrick: Watching the news the other night, I noticed that the rich have a tendency to call themselves 'middle class', a form of false modesty I guess.

Now obviously I can't tell by looking at the woman they interviewed how much she earns, but considering she (so the reporter said) works in the City and was having wine served in a bucket of ice outside a rather fancy restaurant with a colleague/friend after work, I'd assume she's part of the 5% of the population fortunate enough to earn above £50k a year and is therefore not middle class.

Obviously this depends on your interpretation of middle class, I'd say that the "middle" part is a big giveaway that their income should be in the middle somewhere, but how can people this fortunate and well-off talk as though the budget is either going to significantly and adversely affect their living standard or that they shouldn't bear more of the brunt than the poor because they're only "middle class"?


Well Chris, but there are more reasonnable assesments of the choice set than others.

What is usually supposed to be a matter of "political choice" is quite often vodoo economics under in disguise of political ideology.

When you talk about appeasing the markets, most people think that you are doing it just to help the guys in the City; ignoring the fact that we depend on their willingness to lend us money. This kind of assesment is driven by ideological biases.

I mean, sometimes there is a reasonnable alternative, others there is an alternative, but one that almost nobody would wish. I think it is the job of political leaders to transmit this.


The UK is in danger of double dip. Household savings rates are twice the pre-recession rate on very low interest rates. Domestic consumer spending weakening. Capital investment has plummeted and lags typically 1 year behind recession and recovery, so that hardly means good news for productive capacity as well as capital equipment suppliers.

And no hope of weak sterling saving us either. Consumer demand flat or decreasing in the Eurozone (our main market for exports), US economic growing but dollar is actually now competitive than sterling. Chinese exporters dumping goods in our markets.

Clearly the coalition believes that the market will save our asses. But, as a northerner who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s, I really do doubt the ability of the market to maintain or restore prosperity for 50%+ of the UK's citizens.

Its not like the govt is sensitive to businesses either - e.g. housebuilders runnign scared now that he planning system is in limbo. That means fat profits for homeowners in 20 years time, but also that the young and less well off in society will find property either inaccessible or vastly expensive.


What fecks me off is that the tories seem to be loving it so much. There's no compassion at all in their message. No tough love at all.

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