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Keynesian Policies Have Brought Britain To The Brink Of Ruin

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I stumbled across this and thought it was worth linking here:

By far the best contribution to the parliamentary debate on the Emergency Budget was by the MP for Wycombe, Steve Baker. Using impeccable analysis and respected (ONS and Bank for International Settlements) data sources, Mr. Baker painted a frightening scenario in which the fiscal policies of western governments are unsustainable, and were even before the recent crisis erupted.

The government can’t borrow much more, it can’t spend much more and it can’t tax much more; nor can it grow the economy out of its current mess (as if it ever could!). The only other way to pay off its debts is by massive inflation, which would produce a catastrophe reminiscent of the Weimar Republic after World War One.

The implications are national insolvency down the road and it is against this background – and the failure of Keynesian spend-your-way-out-of-it policies that the historic Emergency Budget must be judged. Keynesian policies of fiscal and monetary excess have brought the country to the brink of ruin and need to be repudiated … again, as they were after the IMF crisis in 1976, before the vampire reawoke.

The figures Mr. Baker cited are truly worrying: official debt of £772 billion, itself a not inconsiderable sum, but utterly dwarfed by the government’s existing pension obligations, which raise the total to £4,771 billion, about six times as much. And, if you add in the obligations of the banks, now a ward of the state in more ways than one, you get a figure (using ONS data) of about £6.3 trillion or £6,300 billion – or if you prefer, £6,300,000,000,000. Figures of this magnitude have so many zeros they become incomprehensible, but to give this last figure a sense of magnitude, it is over four times UK GDP.

A billion here, a trillion there, and we are soon talking about real money…

These figures make national bankruptcy inevitable, unless the most drastic measures are taken to avert it.

One hates to add to the general cheeriness, but I would like the suggest that these numbers – though truly frightening, and based on solid sources – are in fact not nearly frightening enough:

1. Most ‘experts’ think that real returns in future will be lower than in the past (lower equity premium, etc) so we should downscale our projections of future real financial returns. This makes the outlook considerably worse.

2. Most projections of pensions obligations ignore longevity risk – the risk of people living longer, unexpectedly, so drawing more from the pension system. (This problem blindsided the supposed experts, the actuaries until post-2000 – think of Equitable Life.) My point is that mortality improvements are much stronger than most people realise and the implications for future pension schemes are very considerable. To give a rough idea, over the next forty years, we might be looking at an increase in pension costs from this factor alone of perhaps 40-50%. Experts are already talking about the ‘toxic tail’ of how many older people will make it to their nineties: this will itself bankrupt many schemes that managed to survive Gordon Brown’s notorious pension fund raids, which wrecked the non-state pension system.

3. Most important of all, the PAYGO pensions/social security nexus is, in essence, just a Ponzi or pyramid-selling scheme. Once one accepts this point, then the rest follows with an unstoppable almost mathematical certainty, i.e. the young get suckered paying ever more into a system that will give them nothing back, the problem gets worse over time, and collapse is inevitable anyway – remember Madoff?

4. One is looking a future of intergenerational warfare, in which the oldsters (who benefited from the system) become more numerous and want ever more entitlements (expensive medical care, etc) for ever longer periods, and expect their children and grandchildren to honour up debt obligations incurred well before they were born. This was always an unpleasant deal but the kitty is now empty. The youngsters meanwhile have their college debts to pay off, can’t get on the housing ladder, face ever more difficult labour market conditions, face higher tax burdens and have none of the economic security (guaranteed pensions, medical care, etc) of their predecessors, which they will have paid for, but won’t get themselves.

In 1930, Maynard Keynes wrote a splendid essay (”Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren“) in which he looked forward 100 years hence. His musings did not age well: he anticipated that by then the economic problem – endless toil – would be resolved and we would be working 3 hour days to keep our hand in as it were, and he worried about the effects of so much leisure time and boredom on our mental health. This was the same genius who told us the government should spend its way out of recession and that in the long run we were all dead anyway.

Update: Click here to read Toby Baxendale’s review of Kevin Dowd’s new book, Alchemists of Loss, which will be launched at the IEA on 30 June (details of the event here).

Click here to view the comments and links etc.

At least, now the money has run out, these problems are being more frequently discussed. However, it now seems too late to do much about it... we're pretty much screwed, with the pain getting worse with each successive year. Of course, this isn't news to HPCers, but hearing it repeated in places which matter, brings reality closer to home.

I also read this here, which I found interesting/amusing:

I am told that Keynes thought that the safe upper limit for the size of the state was 25% of national income. He might have halved the size of Government, so we can applaud the Budget as extremely moderate and thoughtful.

:lol:

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Rubbish.

It was over-spending and lax financial regulation during the boom times that brought Britain to the brink.

The exact opposite of Keynsianism.

Edited by barry

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Rubbish.

It was over-spending and lax financial regulation during the boom times that brought Britain to the brink.

The exact opposite of Keynsianism.

Modern day Keynsianism seems to be very much 'ignore it in the good times, remember it in the bad', so I agree that Keynes is having his work dragged through the mud. However, free market capitalism is dragged through similar mud, when they say it has failed, when it was never free market in the first place either. Perhaps sticking 'modern' in front of either term could make the distinction?

I can't see how the modern banking system can be regulated enough though, in its current form. As Kotlikoff and others have said, you would need to micro regulate too excessively. If we want to have a banking system which is stable, something more radical is needed than the current fractional reserve banking system we now have (IMO, LPB is a good concept).

EDIT: BTW, what do you think of a state no larger than 25% of national income?

(Reworded too)

Edited by Traktion

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Rubbish.

It was over-spending and lax financial regulation during the boom times that brought Britain to the brink.

The exact opposite of Keynsianism.

Yep keynsianism just pushed us over the edge.

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NuLabour enacted the worst, most deadly strategy of spending in the downturn money we didn't have.

They tried to solve a debt problem with more debt.

Keynes said save during the good times and spend that money during the bad. A sensible policy such as China are enacting now.

The other problem was that during the good time we didnt have the capacity to save foreign reserves through running a trade surplus. Labour thought it best to run policies aimed at hiring nonproductive public sector jobs, ones that added little or nothing to our economic output.

An employee paid by the state, working for the state and then paying back taxes to the state creates a zero economic output for the country.

There is nothing wrong with having a public sector to run services which we all need but the belief that the public sector creates 'economic' wealth is barmy. Much of the public sector is there to serve Labour's election needs.

The solution is to -

- Produce more, thus creating the positive trade surplus to pay for our debt.

- Reduce the public sector to its core of offering a service; not being the economy.

- Change all public sector pensions to 'defined contribution' schemes. Everyone should look after their own pot for retirement and not expect others to pay for their retirement.

Public sector pensions wont last anyway. People are better off getting out as in 20 years they will be gone or the government will promise to pay back nominally and massively below the rate of inflation.

Most firms and employees in the private sector have taken a 10-20% cut in salaries and cut in waste during the recession. Firms are now much leaner.

It is time for the public sector to stand up and do its part in solving our problems.

Edited by ringledman

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Public sector pension wont last anyway. People are better off getting out as in 20 years they will be gone or the government will promise to pay back nominally and massively below the rate of inflation.

there are 2 articles of steadfast faith - that government will never renege on state pension agreements, and that house prices will not fall. They are both toast.

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there are 2 articles of steadfast faith - that government will never renege on state pension agreements, and that house prices will not fall. They are both toast.

They may not fall 'nominally' but both will fall MASSIVELY in real terms in the future...

The government promises to pay you your pension, bond holdings, cash in the bank -

They don't promise it will buy what it did when you 'invested' it with them :D

Edited by ringledman

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Modern day Keynsianism seems to be very much 'ignore it in the good times, remember it in the bad', so I agree that Keynes is having his work dragged through the mud. However, free market capitalism is dragged through similar mud, when they say it has failed, when it was never free market in the first place either. Perhaps sticking 'modern' in front of either term could make the distinction?

I can't see how the modern banking system can be regulated enough though, in its current form. As Kotlikoff and others have said, you would need to micro regulate too excessively. If we want to have a banking system which is stable, something more radical is needed than the current fractional reserve banking system we now have (IMO, LPB is a good concept).

EDIT: BTW, what do you think of a state no larger than 25% of national income?

(Reworded too)

Keynes himself never imagined that peacetime government borrowing of more than 25 per cent of GDP would be necessary, and so funding his spending programmes was never a problem since the government's creditworthiness was never called into question.

http://business.scotsman.com/business/Jeremy-Beckwith-Keynesian-theory-would.6355528.jp

25%, or the 55% of today, what does it matter. All just numbers.

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Keynes himself never imagined that peacetime government borrowing of more than 25 per cent of GDP would be necessary, and so funding his spending programmes was never a problem since the government's creditworthiness was never called into question.

http://business.scotsman.com/business/Jeremy-Beckwith-Keynesian-theory-would.6355528.jp

25%, or the 55% of today, what does it matter. All just numbers.

When you just think of the 55% it is unbelievable. Scandalous.

The biggest failure is Labour's policies killed the private sector. There was no need to be entrepreneurial, just sell to the state. Everything revolved around the state.

Now that this crack up 'zero sum game' is over and the new government must try and re-balance the economy it will all be their fault.

This depression is wholly the fault of Labour and a crooked BoE. They put in places the policies for today's failed 'Soviet State'.

The bankers certainly latched on but the 'root cause' lies firmly with the Zanu party.

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/economics/article5581225.ece

‘Soviet’ Britain swells amid the recession

Abul Taher

PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found.

The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere.

Experts believe the recession will tighten the state’s grip still further as benefit handouts soar and Labour directs public sector organisations to create jobs to soak up unemployment.

In the northeast of England the state is expected to be responsible for 66.4% of the economy this year, up from 58.7% when a similar study was carried out four years ago. When Labour came to power, the figure was 53.8%.

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The northwest has seen a similarly relentless advance by the state, according to the research commissioned by The Sunday Times from the Centre for Economics and Business Research (CEBR).

“Labour has failed to encourage private sector investment across the country. Instead of supporting enterprise and small businesses, Gordon Brown has used the public sector to cover up his failures,” said Theresa May, the shadow work and pensions secretary.

The CEBR reached its estimates for 2008-9 by applying the 6.68% state spending increase announced in November’s prebudget report evenly across the country, although in practice some regions will receive more than others.

Across the whole of the UK, 49% of the economy will consist of state spending, while in Wales, the figure will be 71.6% – up from 59% in 2004-5. Nowhere in mainland Britain, however, comes close to Northern Ireland, where the state is responsible for 77.6% of spending, despite the supposed resurgence of the economy after the end of the Troubles.

Even in southern England, the government’s share of spending is growing relentlessly. In the southeast, it has gone up from 33% to 36% of the economy in four years.

The state now looms far larger in many parts of Britain than it did in former Soviet satellite states such as Hungary and Slovakia as they emerged from communism in the 1990s, when state spending accounted for about 60% of their economies.

Large-scale layoffs in the northeast will mean a rise in benefit payments. Newcastle-based Northern Rock was nationalised last year and has shed 1,500 jobs. Nissan announced three weeks ago that it was to cut its workforce in Sunderland by 1,200.

Many are finding new jobs in the public sector, according to One North East, the state development agency.

One of the biggest public sector employers in the northeast is the Department of Work and Pensions, which employs 13,400 there, hundreds of them in jobcentres.

“It’s not that the public sector in the northeast is too big, it is that the private sector is too small,” said Malcolm Page, deputy chief executive of One North East. “The decline of traditional industries in the past means we need to establish more big private-sector companies in the region.”

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show that since Labour came into power in 1997 jobs in the public sector have swelled by more than 500,000. In 1997, more than 5.1m people were employed in the public sector. The figure for 2008 is 5.7m.

However, Vince Cable, the Liberal Democrat Treasury spokesman, said that the state’s grip on the regions was likely to soften the impact of recession there.

“Newcastle and areas like that have a large public sector which will at least shield traditionally very depressed areas from the battering that southeast England is going to get.

“In the long term we need to do something about it. This does suggest the crowding-out phenomenon of the private sector and it also suggests there is a lack of entrepreneurial activity.”

Edited by ringledman

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Keynesian policies have never really been enacted, all what the politicians have took from Keynes was spend, spend, spend.

They worked out spending money proved a vote winner, as long as no one asked where the money was coming from or what the long term consequences would be all would be well. And while house prices where going up in double digit figures YOY I mean who gives a 5h1t right. Just keep voting for the party that keeps this great feeling of wealth flowing.

At some point the party will stop and it's going to be one hell of a hang over.

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An employee paid by the state, working for the state and then paying back taxes to the state creates a zero economic output for the country.

I'd say under labor it was even a negative output.

Taking money from the productive private sector to create non-productive non-jobs in the public sector.

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They may not fall 'nominally' but both will fall MASSIVELY in real terms in the future...

The government promises to pay you your pension, bond holdings, cash in the bank -

They don't promise it will buy what it did when you 'invested' it with them biggrin.gif

fully agree

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An employee paid by the state, working for the state and then paying back taxes to the state creates a zero economic output for the country.

There is nothing wrong with having a public sector to run services which we all need but the belief that the public sector creates 'economic' wealth is barmy.

The state is certainly bloated and probably inefficient, but it's the work done, not how it's accounted for, that decides whether wealth has been created.

The Soviet Union managed to generate quite a bit of wealth from its state-owned industries and farms, enough to sustain itself for 70 years and to build a formidable industrial-military machine that frankly scared the bejeezus out of us at the time.

Or China, 2004: "...of the industrial added value created by all state-owned industrial enterprises and non-state industrial enterprises with annual turnover exceeding five million yuan, state-owned and state stock-holding enterprises accounted for 42.4 percent, collectively-owned enterprises 5.3 percent, the rest taken up by other non-public enterprises"

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Keynes himself never imagined that peacetime government borrowing of more than 25 per cent of GDP would be necessary, and so funding his spending programmes was never a problem since the government's creditworthiness was never called into question.

http://business.scotsman.com/business/Jeremy-Beckwith-Keynesian-theory-would.6355528.jp

25%, or the 55% of today, what does it matter. All just numbers.

A new economic genius is required urgently to solve today's problems.
:lol::lol:

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Keynes himself never imagined that peacetime government borrowing of more than 25 per cent of GDP would be necessary, and so funding his spending programmes was never a problem since the government's creditworthiness was never called into question.

http://business.scotsman.com/business/Jeremy-Beckwith-Keynesian-theory-would.6355528.jp

25%, or the 55% of today, what does it matter. All just numbers.

I find that hard to believe as UK public debt to GDP ratios were well in excess of 100% in the 1930s, a fact that must have been known to Keynes

uk-national-debt-ifs-751552.jpg

http://www.economicshelp.org/2009/03/historical-national-debt.html

In fact current UK debt levels are far from unprecedented it is just we dont have an Empire to help balance the books.

Edited by realcrookswearsuits

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I find that hard to believe as UK public debt to GDP ratios were well in excess of 100% in the 1930s, a fact that must have been known to Keynes

uk-national-debt-ifs-751552.jpg

http://www.economicshelp.org/2009/03/historical-national-debt.html

In fact current UK debt levels are far from unprecedented it is just we dont have an Empire to help balance the books.

Government spend being 25% GDP, not debt 25% of GDP.

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Modern day Keynsianism seems to be very much 'ignore it in the good times, remember it in the bad', so I agree that Keynes is having his work dragged through the mud. However, free market capitalism is dragged through similar mud, when they say it has failed, when it was never free market in the first place either. Perhaps sticking 'modern' in front of either term could make the distinction?

You're right there. Perhaps not using the words Keynsiasms or free market capitalism in the first place would be better. It's usually due to lazy journalism.

I can't see how the modern banking system can be regulated enough though, in its current form. As Kotlikoff and others have said, you would need to micro regulate too excessively. If we want to have a banking system which is stable, something more radical is needed than the current fractional reserve banking system we now have (IMO, LPB is a good concept).

Again, I'd agree with you. You'll never eliminate boom and bust, though. There'll always be a time when people will be saying "Oh, look at those Limited Purpose Banks sitting on their huge cash reserves. We'll just relax the rules a little as, after all, we have now reached a new paradigm and what can possibly go wrong".

EDIT: BTW, what do you think of a state no larger than 25% of national income?

I don't think the size of the state is that important. It's what you get in return that matters and how fair it is.

Uk has German levels of taxation but piss-poor public services.

I am sure that most Victorians would have balked at the thought of a 25% state. They would have said total economic collapse would follow due to such an onerous burden on the free-market.

Yet Scandinavian countries have a 50% state and run very succesful economies.

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Government spend being 25% GDP, not debt 25% of GDP.

Keynes would still have been aware of times that Public spending exceeded 25%

http://www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/uk_20th_century_chart.html

Public spending as a percentage of GDP at the moment is still not 'unprecedented' in peace time .

It is currently at similar levels to that seen in the late 1970s and early 1980s (ie about 47%)

What is unprecedented is the amount of private bad debts sitting in the banking system but no one is addressing that issue.

http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE50I4BU20090119

Much of the so called Keynesian deficit spending being done in the past 20 years was not being done by the state

Edited by realcrookswearsuits

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Guest happy?

I stumbled across this and thought it was worth linking here:

Click here to view the comments and links etc.

At least, now the money has run out, these problems are being more frequently discussed. However, it now seems too late to do much about it... we're pretty much screwed, with the pain getting worse with each successive year. Of course, this isn't news to HPCers, but hearing it repeated in places which matter, brings reality closer to home.

I also read this here, which I found interesting/amusing:

:lol:

I can't imagine how anyone would stumble across the IEA - the rank smell of Hayek is nauseous from 100 yards.

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I can't imagine how anyone would stumble across the IEA - the rank smell of Hayek is nauseous from 100 yards.

Actually, I was looking at Steve Baker MP's blog, which linked the article. Steve is the Cobden Centre founder (see sig), which is why I was wondering how he was getting on (he's new - this election intake).

EDIT: BTW, I'm not sure what is with the vitriol towards Hayek - much of his work makes an awful lot of sense.

Edited by Traktion

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You're right there. Perhaps not using the words Keynsiasms or free market capitalism in the first place would be better. It's usually due to lazy journalism.

Journalists love to sensationalise stuff, though! :)

Again, I'd agree with you. You'll never eliminate boom and bust, though. There'll always be a time when people will be saying "Oh, look at those Limited Purpose Banks sitting on their huge cash reserves. We'll just relax the rules a little as, after all, we have now reached a new paradigm and what can possibly go wrong".

Boom's could still happen - any mania can - but for it to be credit fuelled, it would be more difficult. You would have to convince individuals to pile their money into mutual funds, which in turn loaned out money to the booming sector. In addition, each individual is only risking their own money, so those who stayed out of it would not be effected directly.

I agree that we could slip back to FRB, but I'm not sure how that can be stopped - people have short memories. IMO, all we can do is the right thing now and then hope that it sticks.

Removing all state backing from FRB and adding cigarette like warnings on them (can seriously damage your wealth etc), would discourage use. FRB banks would then be 'free banks', which some argue is a better configuration anyway (I would still argue bank runs can wipe people out in a panic still though).

I don't think the size of the state is that important. It's what you get in return that matters and how fair it is.

Uk has German levels of taxation but piss-poor public services.

I am sure that most Victorians would have balked at the thought of a 25% state. They would have said total economic collapse would follow due to such an onerous burden on the free-market.

Yet Scandinavian countries have a 50% state and run very succesful economies.

I would argue that a big state limits your choice - you're taxed and the money is spent for you, based on an election every few years. With a banking system where people are directly connected with their investments, it would actually be a much more democratic way of voting; if you like green issues, you could invest in mutual funds which support such firms. Alternatively, if you would like to see local start ups, you could invest in mutual funds which support only local investment. It opens up the system to many ethical choices, rather than just pure profit motivation - sure, many would just chase the big profits above all else, but the options could be there and would open up some interesting investment choices for those who care about them.

However, from the perspective of what 'works' (as in, the country doesn't bankrupt itself etc), I agree that a large state can function. TBH, I think almost any size state can probably 'work', but what is optimal (both economically and for personal freedom) is more difficult to define.

One thing is for certain, you can't keep borrowing to enlarge the spend of the state. While you can have high taxes and high spending and have a perfectly stable economy, borrowing more and more to keep taxes low and spending high is a recipe for disaster. TBH, I'd be happy if the government was shackled to a low borrowing limit, for emergencies only, with the books being balanced at all other times. The parties can then say 'we will tax and spend more' or 'we will tax and spend less', with different areas defined in policy. This 'we will tax less and spend more (through borrowing which we will keep quiet about)' is just unfair to future generations and dishonest to the electorate.

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Those filthy Keynesian Socialist banker bastards have brought us all to the brink of ruin, with their commie derivatives and other economically suicidal schemes.

Thank god Dave and Osborne are here to save us all.

hahahahahaha

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Much of the so called Keynesian deficit spending being done in the past 20 years was not being done by the state

indeed - soon to be zombie households and businesses

this is really important - there's been this misguided view that debt was OK and some kind of new-found solution to everything - I think it came from the transition to asian economies/globalisation leading to somewhat lower real interest rates over that period

both lefties and righties made this mistake, so it was not particularly political, just greedy and I suppose quite human

I know left wingers - both on this site and personally - who wouldn't personally dream of building up the current debt levels, there's nothing in any socialist manifesto I am aware of that recommends it.

but we WILL need an effective welfare state (I said effective not generous) to stop all the debt zombie individuals falling thru the cracks. Over-indebted businesses should - in a controled way - go to the wall, I'm afraid. That includes Liverpool and Man U football clubs from the sounds of things!

Edited by Si1

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Those filthy Keynesian Socialist banker bastards have brought us all to the brink of ruin, with their commie derivatives and other economically suicidal schemes.

many a true word spoken in jest - ruthless financial types will probably adopt any mantra handy to prise money out of the taxpayer for their own good. They probably would have happily called themselves Keynsian Socialists (or whatever) at the time to achieve this. Even tho what they did was neither Keynsian nor Socialist.

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I can't see how the modern banking system can be regulated enough though, in its current form. As Kotlikoff and others have said, you would need to micro regulate too excessively. If we want to have a banking system which is stable, something more radical is needed than the current fractional reserve banking system we now have (IMO, LPB is a good concept).

The answer is not to regulate or nationalise the banking system. The answer is to nationalise the money supply. Deprived of their power to create and allocate all new non-cash money (97% of the total money stock), the banks could be left to sink or swim in the open market, like any other private, profit-making businesses.

A simple reform would transfer sole authority to create our national currency to the Bank of England, making it as illegal for the commercial banks to issue non-cash money in the form of "credit" as it already is for them to print notes or to mint coins. It would then be the job of a non-political body with a specific remit, along the lines of the MPC, to decide how much new money was needed at any given time. This would make it possible to control inflation directly, by issuing money or withdrawing it from circulation, rather than attempting to achieve stability with the blunt instrument of interest-rate manipulation.

The reform proposed by The Bank of England (Creation of Currency) Bill 2010 can be studied in detail at http://www.bankofenglandact.co.uk/.

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  • 258 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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