The idea that a lot of shopping translates into a healthy economy is dubious. On the three prior occasions when retail sales have been this strong, consumption was either falling or showing only modest growth at best.
For the Governor of the Bank of England the case for action to help small and medium-sized firms is one of equity, rather than economic efficiency.
The Bank of England is taking more UK government bonds out of the market each month than the Debt Management Office is putting in.
Why is Europe, which likes to present itself as an opponent of speculative “Anglo-Saxon” finance, lining up with the US banking lobby? For me it fits a pattern.
I spoke to a member of the ECB council in Davos last month, who told me that he was in favour of selling the Bank’s (estimated) €5obn of Greek bonds to the EFSF. He even said that the ECB president, Mario Draghi, was reasonably well disposed to the idea.
Last year Sir Mervyn said that the ECB has gone to the “outer limit” of what a central bank can do. It was presumed he was talking about Frankfurt’s sovereign bond purchases. But it now seems possible the Governor was actually referring to the ECB’s willingness to accept the loans of European businesses, whose might or might not survive, as collateral from feeble continental banks.
Figures like Goodwin were widely applauded by by “free market” commentators in the boom. They were described as buccaneering, value-creating, capitalist supermen when things seemed to be going well.
The purpose is to divert public attention from the fact that ministers have failed to do anything about the scandal of the wholly undeserved pay of our too-big-to-fail bankers.
I bumped into the energy secretary Chris Huhne here on the icy runway between the World Economic Forum congress centre and the Belvedere hotel. Huhne had just come out of a series of bilaterals with heads of international energy firms, in which he had been hoping to encourage them to invest more in British infrastructure.
The word dystopia refers to a fictitious place in which everything has gone awry. It is the flip side of utopia, the word coined by Sir Thomas More in his fictional portrayal of a seemingly ideal society. Although such ideas have fascinated novelists ever since More’s musings in the 16th century, there is now reason to fear that we are sowing the seeds of a variety of dystopia which is all too real.
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