Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Well Worth The Wait?

A few hundred £billion later on bail outs and £200bn of Quantitative Easing (QE), a fiscal stimulus package worth a few bob, and all the 'right decisions' have 'apparently' been made?!
What do we get for all that money? 0.1% growth in the final quarter of 2009, according to the Office of National Statistics (ONS). Granted, they may 'sex up' that figure later but the reality is that the much-anticipated recovery that Alistair Darling and Gordon Brown got us all salivating over is hardly worth a thing. Given that we spent all that QE money, we had the effect of Christmas buying and pre-VAT surges, the fact of the matter is that we hardly showed a jot of growth.

The majority of the fiscal stimulus has been spent, now we are on the artificial lifeline of delayed spending cuts in order to tackle our ever increasing borrowing - we are in the red zone on the economic barometer. We are in dodgy credit territory and the Government's strategy of 'Hope' in terms of growth has been like a like a firework's touchpaper fizzling out with no bang.

One economic commentator from the FT previously described the economy as like being lit by firelighters and causing a momentary flash of burning but once the firelighter burnt out discovering that the economy is merely glowing not burning.

I said it before - I believed the Government used the strategy of throwing enough manure at a wall in the vain hope that some would stick in terms of the amount of money they spent. There was no focus, no target, no knowledge of the return on the money - just spend as much as possible and hope things would right themselves, all because a bunch of failed Investment Bankers advised them to do so.

It leaves the Government's fiscal policies both before the financial crisis and after in tatters - they were as bad dealing with the problem as the hubris shown in pre-empting it. No lessons have been learnt, banks have not been reformed or restrained, bonuses are being paid as high as ever in the City and bankers still being revered despite the pathetic windfall tax which makes little or no effect.

0.1% represents an economy in crisis still and we have little left to throw at it and a massive budget deficit to deal with. If this is 'prudent' economics as Gordon always told us he was expert in, then we are surely on a slippery slope to ruin.

If I were the Chancellor, I would be almost embarrassed to mention this figure. This is not good news for businesses continuing to hold in a survival pattern, hoping for an upturn.

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