These charts show public sector net borrowing excluding the accounting treatments of Royal Mail and asset purchase transfers. Revised growth forecasts mean that the deficit is projected to fall sooner than previously expected – and there might be a surplus in 2019.
These changes provided the backdrop George Osborne’s Autumn Statement, a confident defence of his economic strategy in the past, present and – crucially – future. The latter included arguably the most clear-eyed articulation of supply-side reforms in recent memory. But the frame was the improvements in the economy relative to March. In this sense, seven months have made a huge difference. Read more
Forecasts are uncertain …
One of the assumptions politicians seem to make about migration is that promises to be tough and that they Share Your Concern will mollify public opinion. However, if anything, they can provoke public antipathy, according to pollsters. This is surely even more the case when policies are not seen to be working.
I worry about a vicious circle: public say they’re angry at immigration –> politicians say they’re doing something –> public gets worked up –> policy doesn’t or cannot work –> public gets even more angry and thinks it is being lied to. (Or something like that. There is probably a point when policy wonks point out the aggregate gains to migration.) Read more
In 1975, the student rector of Edinburgh university wrote:
“Scottish socialists cannot support a strategy for independence which postpones the meeting of urgent social and economic needs until the day after independence. But neither can they give unconditional support to maintaining the integrity of the United Kingdom – and all that that entails – without any guarantee of radical social change”. Read more
Those who say that nothing good happens after 2 a.m. have never been on a London night bus. During the day buses are ploughs, dragging their way through congested fields. But after midnight they can be louche locomotives.
On board there are the familiar smells of take-aways and broken dreams. But at least on the N38, my chosen wagon, there is also evidence of the great bustling mess of this wonderful city. Couples, whether together for hours or years, huddle together. Occasionally, a story can be heard amid a cacophony of foreign languages. Someone will always thinks it is a good idea to start singing. Of course, at times the night bus can resemble a travelling circus of all that the tabloids say is wrong with modern Britain. But more often I find it a chance to see London afresh, as a woozy dreamscape. Unlike many on board the N38, the city looks good at 3 a.m. Read more
David Cameron announced the figures in the Sun, which shows a picture of him next to a snap of Margaret Thatcher promoting her Right to Buy scheme. It should not take too long to figure out the prime minister’s preferred interpretation of the first figures relating to the mortgage guarantee scheme: the only bubble Help to Buy is inflating is one of happiness in the hearts of ordinary people. Read more
Money can’t buy you love but it can buy you a Beatle’s family home:
John Lennon’s first home was sold to a US buyer for nearly half a million pounds. Read more
Martin Taylor, external member of the Financial Policy Committee, is one of the sharpest writers on matters financial. His speech last night in Wolverhampton caught the eye for the quote in the headline, coming in the wake of data from Rightmove suggesting that London house prices had risen 10 per cent in the last month, and other claims that brick-and-mortar madness has taken over the capital.
The short speech is worth reading in full. It is not a hand-washing exercise. I thought the most revealing line was: “We are fast becoming the most fashionable backstop in town”. Chancellor George Osborne is relying on the Bank of England to prevent the worst possible consequences of his policies. (There is a parallel here to how politicians view schools – a panacea for all the ills caused by social policy.) I read Mr Taylor’s speech as a note of uneasy acquiescence on behalf of the FPC, rather than a relinquishing of duty. He also rightly emphasised what may happen to borrowers when interest rates finally go up. I hope that the FPC is stress-testing the British public’s housing dreams. Read more
Niall Ferguson has written 7,400 words about himself and Paul Krugman. This afternoon, the New York Times columnist responded. His “acolytes” have had a go. Prof Ferguson’s criticism is directed at Prof Krugman but he also implies an ideal of the public intellectual. And this conception is incomplete. Read more
Using a column chart to greet Alice Munro’s Nobel prize for literature is about as ludicrous as making a celebratory scatter plot of Shelley poems. But here goes: Read more