“The biggest and most far-reaching mistake”

John Rentoul

gbcrash The biggest and most far reaching mistakeNo, I haven’t read much of Gordon Brown’s book, Beyond the Crash. My faltering and dutiful attempt prompted musings on the fascinating and life-enhancing qualities of ditch water.

In my defence, I can only say that few others have made much more progress. Or else someone would have reported by now, seven weeks after it was published, the closest that Brown has come to an admission of contributory culpability in the financial crisis.

Fortunately, one person who has read, marked and inwardly digested the book is Simon Lee, senior lecturer in politics at Hull University. He writes:

The nearest he [Brown] comes to a political mea culpa is when Brown does concede that, in a leveraged economy, his faith in ‘a diversification of risk spread across many institutions and through many instruments’ was, in retrospect, ‘the biggest and most far-reaching mistake I and others made’.

I do like that ‘and others’.

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  • Ian

    Debt that cannot be repaid is false money no matter where you hide it.

    I could go on, but that will do for now.

  • JohnJustice

    Saving the world is implicit in what Sidelsky wrote. Here’s a bit more to bring this out:

    “His finest hour was in the seven months following the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, when the world economy was in freefall, and during which he became its de facto leader. He was clear about what had to be done: first the banking system had to be rescued by a large injection of capital; then the economy had to be restarted with a huge stimulus. To work, both steps needed to be co-ordinated with the other main countries. His mantra was (and is): “Global problems need global solutions.” He filled the leadership gap at a moment when, from a mixture of ignorance in Europe and political interregnum in the US, no one else could.

    In Paris on 12 October, Brown persuaded European leaders – and two days later days Henry Paulson of the US Treasury – to agree a co-ordinated “recapitalisation” of their banking systems. The decision to pursue this, in the face of initial bank hostility, was the biggest one Brown made as PM.

    His second signal act of leadership was at the G20 meeting in London in April 2009. Recapitalisation had saved the banks, but had not restarted bank lending. Brown spent his family’s summer holiday in 2008 reading up on the Great Depression, and this persuaded him that a massive, co-ordinated “stimulus” package was needed to revive the “real” economy. On 2 April 2009 he announced $1tn of support for the global economy: extra IMF special drawing rights, extra World Bank resources for less affluent countries, extra trade credits plus a world stability board to manage risks, and coordinated monetary and fiscal expansion. Brown was a tough chairman of this fractious gathering. He had learned from his days as student rector of Edinburgh University that “you need to drive meetings toward conclusions and not simply wait for them to emerge”. But the leaders also trusted his financial expertise. The president of the World Bank described the G20 package as the thing that “broke the fall” of the world economy.”

    And here’s a quote from Kaletsky’s review in the Times:

    “Brown’s Churchillian tone may sound vain, but it is broadly justified … (He) really did save the world.”

  • BlairSupporter

    Blair’s behaviour after office?
    1. A faith Foundation
    2. A sports foundation
    3. Advertising right now for people wishing to work for his Africa Governance Initiative
    2. Still gainfully (or perhaps not) working (free) for peace in the Middle East

    I could go on, but I can’t be bothered.

    Iraq was NOT his “biggest mistake”. Expecting people like you to understand the reasons, may have been.

    Just out of interest, what have YOU done today to make you feel proud?

  • KlingonOffTheStarboardBow

    Brown was a total and utter disaster from beginning to end. What is unbelievable is that many seem to think he was a good Chancellor! The latest revelations in this very paper concern the Iraq war. An Absolute disgrace.


    Let me see — I irritated a Blairite. That always makes feel proud.

  • JohnJustice

    That kind of pride usually comes before a fall (in the moral sense, of course).

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