Chancellors have always seen the all-important GDP numbers a day before they are formally published, which makes any event involving the chancellor on that day a fascinating game of bluff and second-guessing.
So what could we tell from Monday’s press conference with George Osborne, which was ostensibly about the UK-India trade relationship?
Osborne walked slowly and confidently into the room, his head held high and smiling. But read nothing into that: others have commented before on how he always manages to grin, whatever storm he is facing.
Vince Cable’s call in the FT for the Bank of England to restart quantatative easing for the first time since February 2010 marks a remarkable intervention into monetary policy.
Since the Bank was granted operational independence in 1997, politicians have generally steered clear of giving advice on monetary policy, which has been delegated to the Bank.
Mervyn King, Bank governor, has fiercely defended its independence against much less overt interference in the past. Almost a decade ago he publicly dressed-down Ed Balls , then Gordon Brown’s special adviser, for milder remarks on monetary policy.
The business secretary’s call for more QE reflects some desperation among the coalition in advance of tomorrow’s second quarter growth figures, which are expected to be weak. (We are all looking for clues in Osborne’s body language at a press conference with the Indian finance minister today; he has just said ‘there are risks to current and future growth‘).
Calling for the Bank to buy more assets and be more imaginative about the assets it buys will irritate the Bank. Mr King has pointed out many times that the Bank, if it decides to restart QE will
Aftermath of the Oslo bomb
The top-level National Security Council met at 9.30 on Monday morning to discuss, among other things, the UK’s response to the Norwegian massacre.