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August 07, 2021

Comments

CreamOnTop

Think this is a catchy headline but misleading? He should echo the question asked but ignore much of the actual legacy?

PFI and all that private nonsense and debt off balance sheet - fortunately we know this debt is not a problem thanks to the collapse of their financialisation! The handing over of state resources and assets whilst retaining patronage is my memory of them.

The Poor hating I disliked - they increased inequality (looked better thanx to by asset dip 08!): Justified poverty if you were not a child: Bringing in sanctioning (Yvette Cooper take a bow): It all ended with a bigoted Immigration minister and Cooper haranguing May as soft on Immigrants through 2012 (before patronising Child Refugees).

We've had Rallentando growth with each decade slower for over 50 years regardless of who is in charge. That is the thing I'd like to have seen addressed. Before we considered climate and resources the limiting factor.

Sadly with world burning the real issues mean we need to disregard the rhetoric laden consensus politics of banks, land prices, poverty and inequality Labour/Cons/Coalition championed for me.

The question's different and more existential.

Nanikore

I totally agree with your post, from beginning to end.

At least Starmer realises that we need to ask again what does a social democracy actually look like. And as you say, it does not look like the top down technocratic model that Blair introduced/consolidated.

It looks more like social democracies on the continent. I believe that the models in Europe are closer to the right ones. Neo-classical economists will keep bringing up austerity, but that is because they don't really understand how they work. You have been to Germany, does it look like an austerity economy?

The European model was going well. The single currency was an important step after the creation of a large protected market. It was derailed by overly rapid expansion of the EU (against French and German wishes, but acquiesced under UK and especially US pressure) when political, financial consolidation was necessary after the introduction of the single currency. Without the shock enlargement and its effects on capital flows and the workings of the EU, German surplus funds could then be channelled into the Southern Periphery via activist long term capital projects. This is something desirable both for the capital deficit south and the capital surplus north in need of returns on its surplus. And its something the Germans are very good at. Reunification showed how they are able to do this.

My advice to Starmer is to for ideas in successful social democracies: Germany, Japan, Taiwan, China (in terms of its decentralised approach: it is not entirely the centralised command system that it is made out to be - on this read Sinologists like Barry Mc Cormick who wrote about this back in the 80s), and north-west Europe.

Economics must also change. Studies of capitalism need to be multidisciplinary and less technocratic. It is difficult to have intellectual leadership from these types of autistic thinkers.

Jim

There is more joy in heaven.....

The Blairish approach is at least practical, better than p*(sing Labour's chances up the wall for certain. But Blair had to lie to the unions to get elected, this time round they may be a little more compliant. After all, the Tories are on a roll and in union bashing mood.

How much good New Blair can do seems debatable. I am pessimistic about the jobs outlook Tory or Labour. In protecting Nature through a Green agenda we seem to be attempting to break the laws of nature. And Nature cannot be fooled either by Labour or Tory. Tears before bedtime certainly but not for several years yet.

For me the choice is 'which is least bad'. The options look very limited. Who to tax? The oldies, the landowners, the very rich. These seem the only ones likely to have the readies. As for getting pension funds to invest - in what?

An election in 2024? A puzzle as to whether Boris should move it forward. Seems to me this is a slow burn problem, the question is when will come the trough, just before 2024 or just after.

Blissex

«“embrace Tony Blair’s political legacy.” Which poses the question: what is that legacy? [...] Blair’s (and Brown’s) great genius was to see that social democracy had to adapt to new times.»

I think that given this premise the article is mistaken from beginning to end because:

* Tony Blair's main legacy was "continuity thatcherism", and it is thatcherism that Keir Starmer indeed means as that legacy, because his strategy is to appeal to thatcherite voters who want a more forensic and competent thatcherite leader as a substitute for, rather than an alternative to, Boris Johnson.

* The Gordon Brown side of New Labour was, at least in intent, not thatcherite, as Lance Price noted i 1999: “Gordon wants us to be a radical progressive, movement, but wants us to keep our heads down on Europe. Peter [Mandelson] thinks that we are a quasi-Conservative Party but that we should stick our necks out on Europe.”

The legacy that Keir Starmer is successfully pursuing can be summarized by two quotes:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2002/jun/10/labour.uk
Peter Mandelson: “in the urgent need to remove rigidities and incorporate flexibility in capital, product and labour markets, we are all Thatcherites now”

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/22/tony-blairs-speech-on-the-future-of-the-labour-party-in-full
Tony Blair: “I wouldn’t want to win on an old-fashioned leftist platform. Even if I thought it was the route to victory, I wouldn’t take it.”

Blissex

«The Blairish approach is at least practical, better than p*(sing Labour's chances up the wall for certain.»

This usual delusion of "Westmister bubble" politics is to think that the details of policy and politics matter in elections, as if voters pored over manifestos, scored them in spreadsheets with dozens of rows and complex weighting formulas, and then voted for the highest scoring party (the so-called "spatial model" of voting choice).

But they have a single vote, and they use it on their "vote-moving issue" (from Grover Norquist), which has been for decades in the UK primarily property, and secondarily wages: elections are property inflation referendums, and "right-wing" voters vote for it, and "left-wing" voters vote against it, if there is any significant party that is against it, else they don't vote (which is the point of ensuring that all three main parties are thatcherite).

«An election in 2024? A puzzle as to whether Boris should move it forward. Seems to me this is a slow burn problem, the question is when will come the trough»

Slow burn? Trough? As far as the tory voter coalition is concerned Boris Johnson is highly competent and trustworthy, as he has reliably delivered inflating share and property prices plus brexit, and their living standards have been booming since 2010.

The Conservative strategists seem to have learned that "trusted on the economy" means "trusted on property inflation", and they have not failed to notice that if Gordon Brown had called the elections just before the 2008 crash, he would have been PM for the next 5 years, would have been able to restart property inflation during those 5 years, so probably would have won the 2012 elections, and might even still be PM today.

The Conservatives monitor closely the state of the property and share markets (their constituents do tell them loudly), and will call an election if there is any sign that they need to cash in the approval of voters for the current property inflation (and for getting brexit done) before losing it.

PS It was several years ago that a commenter here (can't remember who it was) pointed out that property is the central issue of UK politics, and that for many decades a ruling parts has only been defeated after a property crash, and this plus familiarity with "Middle England" property speculators (mortgagees) enlightened me.

Dave Timoney

My one quibble with this is that it assumes that in "adapting to new times" Blair & Brown were addressing the world as it was in the mid-90s, but in reality they were in thrall to a vision rooted in the mid-80s. Many of their achievements were in reality the continuation of Tory policy (e.g. the Good Friday Agreement).

The expansion of universities was less about addressing wage inequality than an acknowledgment of the shift from manufacturing to services; tax credits were simply a rebranding of the welfare subsidies that had ballooned under Thatcher; and BoE independence & fiscal rules were the culmination of a policy debate launched in the late-70s.

What was new about New Labour was largely to do with its internal party management and external media presentation (marginalising the left, weakening the union link, cultivating rich donors), much of which was a performative repeat of battles already fought and won under Kinnock.

Had New Labour really been addressing the new times of the mid-to-late 90s then it might not have had such a blindspot for housing, for financial regulation (it learnt little from Black Wednesday & was mugged over PFI), and might have moved on from the naive end-of-history delusions that informed its foreign policy.

Blissex

«We've had Rallentando growth with each decade slower for over 50 years regardless of who is in charge.»

When I read this kind of blindness to reality I am depressed: since 1980 "the economy", that means the fortunes of "investors", of thatcherite voters, has been *booming*.

The main indicators of "prosperity" have been share and (southern) property prices, not per-person GDP growth, and except for two unfortunate moments, they have been ballooning, with ever-improving living standards for thatcherite voters.

No "declinism" for them, thanks to massive redistribution (several trillion over a few decades) from "bolshie, unproductive" workers to "patriotic, entrepreneurial" rentiers.

The halving of the per-person GDP growth rate in the decades after 1980 compared to the decades before has been another "success" because it has meant a more "disciplined" employment market and thus more lower wage inflation (or even disinflation) making all sorts of services more affordable to thatcherite voters and more profitable to the "sponsors" or thatcherite parties.

Blissex

«I would argue that the Iraq war was a consequence of this. It arose from what James C. Scott has called “high modernist ideology” - too much confidence in the possibility of centralized knowledge (and the wisdom of leaders) which led to an under-valuing of ground truth.»

Sometimes our blogger's wykehamism, his passion for various types of "cognitive"/"ideological" bias, rather than the "realpolitik" of interests, is comically exposed as here, consider:

Tony Blair to George W Bush: “I will be with you, whatever."

Winston Churchill to Charles De Gaulle: “And every time I have to choose between you and Roosevelt, I will always choose Roosevelt."

Philipp Hammond to "Die Welt": “Historically, the U.S. is a security partner and we have a very, very strong security and intelligence relationship with the United States. Our relationship with the European Union is more important in scale economically than our relationship with the United States, but we don’t have the same kind of security partnership with the European Union.”

Andrew Marr, "History of modern Britain": “Britain’s dilemma from 1945 until today has been easy to state, impossible to resolve. How do you maintain independence and dignity when you are a junior partner, locked into defence systems, intelligence gathering and treaties with the world’s great military giant? [...] In practice this meant [...] a posture towards American presidents that is nearer that of salaried adviser than independent ally.”

rsm

@ Our blogger: don't negative interest rates despite surging debt simply invalidate mainstream models, such that we should just stop listening to economists when making public policy?

@Nanikore: what would Germany look like without the unlimited dollar swap line with the Fed? Something like Weimar or Hitler? And isn't the ECB's peripheral bond buying program funded by money creation, not German surplus funds?

@Blissex: which would you draw on in a crisis, unlimited dollars from the Fed, or Euros from the ECB? Which actually happened?

Jim

I agree Blissex, people do not read manifestos or vote by spreadsheet. They buy politicians like they buy soap powder. A nice looking box, some decent advertising and being disappointed/bored by the old brand. Starmer may look a really boring lawyer type but at least he is not a whiskery old git. A small advantage but probably not enough.

As for 2024. I also agree that Boris/Tories will likely win. The Brexit effect is too slow burn, Covid glory will (with luck) still be with Boris. Although if Boris had any sense he would resign and go and make some money. The next decade will I feel make the Tory soap powder look a bit tatty. But probably after 2024. Boris has had his best years in politics. Labour will have to be patient.

I agree that property is the bane of British politics. Selling off the council houses was not a bad plan. Not building new was a serious error. Thatcher may have wanted to punish the miners and them-up-north but she sowed the seeds of Britain's destruction. And ensured the Tories could preside over that destruction for a long time. But I don't think she planned it that way.

If I could lie my way into Parliament I would build public housing big time with a plan to sell it off at some random date 50 years in the future. Give the private builders and rentiers some serious competition. I would not be fussy about hiring EU labour to do the job either.

Gregory Bott

Economically the Blair era is irrelevant. It came during the blow off from the global credit bubble. Socially it was a disaster. Especially with the Muslim rape orgies. Might as well elect Tory frauds. At least they don't virtue signal.

Blissex

«They buy politicians like they buy soap powder. A nice looking box, some decent advertising and being disappointed/bored by the old brand.»

That's unrealistic elistism: actually there are shallow voters, but most are not that stupid, they have fairly good instincts, whether narrowly selfish or more strategic, as Tony Blair said: “people judge us on their instincts about what they believe our instincts to be”, and they are often right. For example Conservative sponsors and voters care very much about their rentierism profits, and they rightly trust Boris Johnson; Labour voters care about the huge percent of their stagnating income going to the pensions and incomes of their superiors, and so they rightly distrust Keir Starmer.

Blissex

«she sowed the seeds of Britain's destruction.»

Those were sown decades before when the heirs of the iron masters decided to become gentry and gentlefolk and asset strip their own industries (and later everybody else) to fund their luxury.

«And ensured the Tories could preside over that destruction for a long time.»

Salting away their loot into far away places like Cameron did, and then enjoying them wherever they want, whether it be Dubai or Bahamas or Chelsea or Manhattan, works pretty well for them. Loot and move on is a strategy loved by social darwinists.

«But I don't think she planned it that way.»

Fundamentally she was a social darwinist, but there is a nice quote that tries to paint her in a more innocent light:

«However, it is undeniable that Thatcher’s policies led to a nation that was more individualistic, hedonistic and greedy. With this in mind, I press Filby as to whether Thatcher ever regretted unleashing the forces she did. “Yes,” comes the instant reply. “Peregrine Worsthorne [Telegraph journalist] once said that, ‘Margaret Thatcher came into Downing Street determined to recreate the world of her father and ended up creating the world of her son.’ It’s a pretty damning assessment but it’s actually quite true.”»

ltr

Blissex:

Loot and move on is a strategy loved by social darwinists.

[ Brilliant statement. ]

ltr

Tony Blair fostered an intolerant UK. An intolerance that set the stage for Brexit, for the demeaning of Jeremy Corbyn, for the disdain for China... Above all else, Blair brought Labour and the UK a self-defeating intolerance.

Nanikore

@Rsn: "what would Germany look like without the unlimited dollar swap line with the Fed? Something like Weimar or Hitler? And isn't the ECB's peripheral bond buying program funded by money creation, not German surplus funds?"

The whole world economy is underwritten by the Fed and the US dollar. This started happening in the 1920s in events related to the decline of Britain and Sterling and the rise of the United States.

This was consolidated after the US emerged the unequivocal victor and superpower of the free world in 1945.

The UK is being propped up by the Fed. The BOE predicted a Sterling crash if there was a Brexit result. Imagine the effect that would have on worldwide financial markets in this environment if those credit lines were not activated? The Fed and the ECB were simply not going to allow that happen. (Brexiters need to give the ECB (very ironically) and the Fed a big thank you.)

So Germany. The integrity of the Duestche Mark was earned the hard way. Germany did not have the luxury of the economic and political power of the United States to enable its currency to become the world's international trading currency. It had to earn its credibility. And it is not going to allow that to be lost with the Euro.

German macroeconomic (counter-cyclical) stabilisation does not work through monetary policy. That is done through direct intervention in the labour market and in the allocation of long term capital flows. Macro-policy is conservative. But that has given it its long term stability.

The austerity imposed on the southern periphery is a consequence of not being able to extend this system following EU enlargement. But the fact the EU has held out during the enlargement crisis and its consequences is a testament to its durability. Eastern enlargement was a huge and lasting shock for the EU; much greater than, for example, Brexit.

What is funding the ECB's bond buying programme? Yes ultimately the Fed. But also Germany has had current account surpluses over a long period. In the 1990s before enlargement it saw the southern periphery as a means of earning continued high returns on its accumulated capital to fund its own ageing population when it reached retirement.

rsm

"Germany has had current account surpluses over a long period"

Are you trying to imply that the ECB uses German deposits to buy Greek bonds, in some sort of "loanable funds" theory?

But doesn't the ECB balance sheet show "capital" as an insignificant fraction of ECB bond purchases, so German deposits at the ECB (which shows up in the "capital" balance sheet item) could not have funded peripheral bond purchases?

If private German institutions bought Greek bonds, isn't that voluntary and thus wholly different from the idea that German taxpayers involuntarily funded bond purchases?

So, why isn't the story that the ECB created money out of thin air to shore up peripheral bonds so that any private bank exposure to sovereign default was eliminated? And not anything to do with German tax receipts funding Greek spending?

https://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub/annual/balance/html/index.en.html ECB balance sheet

rsm

@Nanikore 2

"Germany did not have the luxury of the economic and political power of the United States to enable its currency to become the world's international trading currency. It had to earn its credibility. And it is not going to allow that to be lost with the Euro."

Isn't this story woefully ignorant of how the US dollar functions as a hub currency for most international trade?

In https://twitter.com/rch371/status/1423298940359827462/photo/1 for example, is 90% of Indonesian trade said to have been transacted in dollars despite only 9% of that being spent on direct US-Indonesia trade? Is the same likely true of Germany? Trade with its foreign partners mainly goes through dollars?

Shouldn't we be updating our trite old just-so trade stories?

rsm

[My above comment was predicated on interpreting "its currency" in the quotation as referring to Germany's currency. If "US currency" was meant, then my comment simply reinforces the point that the dollar is still king and Germany is happy to let the US deal with all the headaches associated with that ...]

Nanikore

The point is that trade is denominated in US dollars. You have to be able to purchase those dollars to export so that you can import. That is why a hard currency if you are not hegemonic power is important. That's one of the key aspects of the German and Japanese (Frederick List) model.

But I have to concede your point about Say's Law and Loanable Funds. But the thing is you cannot underestimate the power of financial markets and the stupidity of its practitioners. I knew some of the then 28 year olds at Goldman Sachs, I know how they think. They will look at debt levels and current account levels and say 'sell'. The behaviour and ignorance by the UK and American banks, including, and especially, that one, in Japan during the bubble and post-bubble era was extraordinary. Although may be not stupid in the sense that the money they made, especially for themselves, was revolting. So in a way a result similar to Says Law in fact does arise by default as it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and currencies in this position will have to correct their external positions a la the Asian Financial Crisis. Of course in Japan there was not even a current account deficit and its a very closed system but Goldman Sachs said that Japanese government debt was unsustainable and the whole country will fall apart. Of course it didn't and predictably no careers at GS were harmed by it - in fact the ones I knew were made into partners. But countries dependent on foreign capital like the UK are more dependent on the Fed, such as the swap lines activated when Sunak initiated the Covid rescue plans or after the Brexit result.(Interestingly, and rarely, in the former case this was reported in some of the financial press - people generally don't realise how vital these swap lines are.)

It will be very interesting times in the world economy if and when the Fed starts pulling back its liquidity.

Nanikore

Sorry meant to say that above comment was a reply to rsm

Blissex

«You have to be able to purchase those dollars to export so that you can import. That is why a hard currency if you are not hegemonic power is important. That's one of the key aspects of the German and Japanese (Frederick List) model.»

But the japanese and german governments have been very keen for decades on lower exchange rates to boost exports and the german establishment accepted the euro also because thanks to the trade deficits of other eurozone countries it would be somewhat less hard than the DM.

What the german and japanese establishments want is not a hard currency, but a stable (or ideally slowly falling) currency that is somewhat cheap.

It is the countries with a trade deficit that need a hard currency, so they can buy the dollars needed for the imports cheaply, and therefore they badly need capital inflows to harden their currency.

«people generally don't realise how vital these swap lines are»

Only in the short term: in the medium-long term they have to be taken back to net zero because the USA elites are not so keen for the Fed to risk higher USA inflation (and thus potentially higher interest rates) to finance lower taxes in the UK.

Nanikore

"But the japanese and german governments have been very keen for decades on lower exchange rates to boost exports and the german establishment accepted the euro also because thanks to the trade deficits of other eurozone countries it would be somewhat less hard than the DM."

That has almost never been true. In Japan's case it was more lethargy: during the 1950s the yen was overvalued (easily shown by the fact that official rates were well above black market rates). In the 1960s with inflation they were likewise slow to revalue. The consensus among historians in Japan is that they were too rigid in maintaining rules, such the 360 yen rate vs the dollar which remained unchanged for two two decades.

The consensus was that both Germany and Japan managed 70s stagflation very well.

In the late 1970s they were under pressure to expand their economies and act like locomotives for the world economy and close their current account surpluses, especially their surpluses vv the US. In Japanese this is called gaiatsu (foreign pressure). The cause of this imbalance had far more to do with what the US was doing than Japan.

The export led economy has always been a myth in Japan. The Japanese economy has always been domestically led. It is more to do with low import ratios than high export ratios (which are no higher than most other industrialised countries.

Well they did what they were told. Not only did the German and Japanese macro-expansions not close the imbalances, but it was the beginning of the bubble economy in Japan.

Germany like wise does not actively promote export led growth through the exchange rate, and never did. The DM was always precious and sacrosanct. Devaluation is not something they would do lightly. Likewise for the Euro, its successor.

If there is a change, it's very recent. And this is probably linked to the fact that both the ECB and BOJ are now run by MIT educated neo-classical economists (and incidently both now are revolving doors with Goldman Sachs - something not true with the BOJ in the past). Very different to the civil servants who ran the economy in previous decades.

ltr

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=w3n5

January 15, 2018

Real Broad Effective Exchange Rate for China, Germany and Japan, 1994-2021

(Indexed to 1994)

https://fred.stlouisfed.org/graph/?g=yeYT

January 15, 2018

Real Broad Effective Exchange Rate for China, United States, India, Japan and Germany, 1994-2021

(Indexed to 1994)

[ The real value of the Yen has declined by about 45% since 1994. The real value of the German currency has declined about 13% since 1994. ]

Blissex

«In Japan's case it was more lethargy: during the 1950s the yen was overvalued»

The post-1945 period up to the Korean War was quite different...

As to the Korean War and later:

Michael Lewis, "Pacific Rift", 1992
«The japanese viewed trade as war, surplus as victory. In 1987, when the yen was rising against the dollar and japanese exporters were feeling badly squeezed, a japanese newspaper published a column that compared the foreign-exchange markets to the Pacific War. As Fallows quoted: "In a few months the yen soared from 245 to 200. This was the equivalent of Japan's loss of four aircraft carriers at Midway ... Washingtons final objective is probably an exchange rate of 100 to $1. That represents Japan's total defeat and General Douglas MacArthur's triumphant entry into Tokyo ... we must not lose the Pacific War twice."»

«Germany like wise does not actively promote export led growth through the exchange rate, and never did. The DM was always precious and sacrosanct. Devaluation is not something they would do lightly.»

That "Devaluation" seems to be ridiculous, because what they did was to resist revaluation as much as possible, which was demanded by their EEC partners and the UK and the USA too.

I find this "blast from the past" quite funny:

https://reuters.screenocean.com/record/419114
9th November 1969 13:00
«THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT DECIDED THE FOLLOWING:
1. THE GERMAN MARK WILL BE REVALUED BY 8 1/2 PER CENT - THAT IS THE PARITY RATE TO THE DOLLAR WILL NO LONGER BE 4.00 D.M. BUT ONLY 3.66 D.M. AT THE SAME TIME WE WILL CLARIFY (UNREST & LAUGHTER)....COULD I ASK YOU TO BE A LITTLE QUIETER....."»

Nanikore

We must be careful not to look at these economies as if it was their own. They operate differently. And really the story is much more sober. Cheap and under-devalued currencies is not something I would associate with the DM or Yen (except for a brief period in the late 1960s when rising inflation called for a revaluation). The period following German reunification was perhaps another exceptional period. Rigid compliance to rules, however, I might : Japanese interest rates were kept unchanged at 5 per cent from about 1950 until into the 1970s. Foreign exchange reserves were never allowed to rise and fall above or below a certain level. Macroeconomic policy was very conservative. Budgets had to remain in balance. Adjustment took place in other ways: through direct forms of capital allocation and centralised wage bargaining - in Japan the so-called Spring Round. Almost certainly the payments imbalances are to do with the industrial structure, macro policy and other facets of the deficit countries. What has been happening to UK and US manufacturing since about 1955? David Egerton is pretty good on the former. Also did you ever read Bronfenbrenner? Written back in the 1960s an excellent comparison of national business cycles - also very revealing. The key point was in Germany and Japan there was very little short term oscillation in comparison to the UK's "stop - go"; a consequence of its erratic macro-policy.


Nanikore

sorry I mean 'our own' not 'their own'.

ltr

August 10, 2021

Coronavirus

United Kingdom

Cases ( 6,117,540)
Deaths ( 130,503)

Deaths per million ( 1,911)

China

Cases ( 93,969)
Deaths ( 4,636)

Deaths per million ( 3)

rsm

@Nanikore:

"You have to be able to purchase those dollars to export so that you can import."

Thus the huge international Eurodollar lending market, backstopped by administered Fed dollar prices?

"in a way a result similar to Says Law in fact does arise by default as it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy"

Why aren't we talking and blogging about how Fischer Black in Noise was right about arbitrary prices?

> I think that the price level and rate of inflation are literally indeterminate. They are whatever people think they will be. They are determined by expectations, but expectations follow no rational rules. If people believe that certain changes in the money stock will cause changes in the rate of inflation, that may well happen, because their expectations will be built into their long term contracts.

[In other words, isn't Say's Law used to justify inflation constraints on printing money, but hasn't finance long since proven that money production dwarfs real production, therefore Say's law has nothing to say about current policy potential?]

@ Blissex:

"the USA elites are not so keen for the Fed to risk higher USA inflation (and thus potentially higher interest rates)"

Why can't the Fed buy and sell inflation swaps as needed via open market operations, to set market-based inflation expectations as desired? And, why can't the Fed pay inflation as interest on individual Fed CBDC accounts, to encourage individual savings if inflation still gets unwantedly high?

RC

Let's not forget that Tony Blair's government oversaw more miners being made redundant than either Margaret Thatcher or John Major although the Labour Party's collective memory seams to erase that fact. Was he doing it for the environment? Was Thatcher doing it because she was wicked? No, it was happening as the economic circumstances were changing and Britain didn't want dirty coal and when it did want it wasn't prepared to pay through the nose for it.

Personally I thought Tony Blair's government did a good job with policies that made a difference like the minimum wage and a belief that Britain could do better although there was also some muddle headed nonsense like the wonderful sounding "ethical foreign policy". The Brown succession was a disaster and Brown had been far from prudent as a chancellor under Blair.

ltr

August 12, 2021

Coronavirus

United Kingdom

Cases ( 6,179,506)
Deaths ( 130,701)

Deaths per million ( 1,914)

China

Cases ( 94,161)
Deaths ( 4,636)

Deaths per million ( 3)

rsm

》Duffy: We had it drummed in when I was a child with mine … it was education, health service and looking after the people who are vulnerable. But there's too many people now who are vulnerable but they can claim and people who are vulnerable can't get claim, can't get it.

》Brown: But they shouldn't be doing that, there is no life on the dole for people any more. If you are unemployed you've got to go back to work. It's six months.

Shouldn't Brown have answered "we'll give you and everyone a generous, inflation-protected, universal basic income?"

Shouldn't we be drumming out the sort of wrong, naively zero-sum mainstream economics that that citizen had drummed into her as a child? Can't we educate her now?

rsm

[ https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2010/apr/28/gordon-brown-gillian-duffy-transcript

Was she bigoted or just ignorant? Was Brown too shaky on finance to challenge the mainstream economic assumptions underlying her spoken questions?]

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