Some economic links

What is “reform”? Peter Dorman blogs.

Wynne Godley on the Euro. He was agin it, for sensible reasons, even if the dream-remark “Unless he justifies himself I must save him” in his memoir of psychoanalysis seems oddly appropriate.

John Major remembers. I can’t imagine any other Tory caring about the music-hall tradition, and he is after all the last British prime minister who wasn’t a university graduate. But this is outrageous:


“I thought I could do something different from any Conservative prime minister before me. But I couldn’t. I was trapped with a socking great recession. Shops were closing, people were losing their homes – all the things I went into politics to avoid – and I was almost powerless to do anything about it. And then, after handing over the best economy in generations, I watched other people spend the money. So, was that frustrating? You bet it was.”

The recession, of course, was the ERM recession, the consequence of the policy he decided on, wanted, and as chancellor of the exchequer, successfully sold to Margaret Thatcher. The “best economy” was the outcome of being forced to abandon this policy and do the exact opposite. Still dodging.

Mervyn King, dictator:

“The process within the Bank was one of second-guessing what your superiors and specifically Mervyn King would like you to think about a certain subject before offering your opinion on it. Agreeing with the Governor was the route to advancement. Some people did not like it and left. It’s all a bit pointless if you are just going to reflect back what somebody already thinks. There were a lot of people at the Bank being paid vast amounts of money to hold a mirror up to Mervyn.”

(I’ve heard this from ex-Bank of England people too.)

The sad fate of the Halifax Building Society:

I went into my local HBOS branch in Keighley, Yorkshire [i.e. my home town and my former account-holding branch - AFOE] a few years ago to get some advice about investments and ISAs. The sales person went through various options, including what sort of level of risk I would like. I then asked him if he invested in any of the products provided by his bank. He confided in me that he made a lot of money doing online poker, and was going large on buy-to-let, and did not use any of the bank’s products.

Sad, but you shouldn’t romanticise the Halifax too much. During my teens, a farmer whose overdraft they called in showed up at that branch with a muck-spreader full of liquid shit and hooked up the tractor’s power take-off. Splat.

British suicide and the economy.

Even I didn’t know this.

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