The recession – whodunit?


A publication the Adam Smith Institute is particularly proud of is The Recession – Causes and Cures by Dr David Simpson. Dr Simpson was Economics professor at Strathclyde, and then economic advisor to Standard Life. His piece is short, eloquent, and utterly convincing. It forms a crucial part of our counter-attack on the facile but common notion that it was greedy bankers who brought about our downfall.

Not so. Dr Simpson methodically traces the bust's causes to the previous credit-fuelled boom instigated by governments and their central bankers. There were indeed bankers who made foolish (rather than greedy) decisions, and who read risks wrongly. But they did so amid a sea of cheap money which governments had flooded onto them. The asset-price bubbles (which are now bursting or deflating as markets correct the errors) resulted from interest rates deliberately kept too low for too long.

The best way to treat a bust is to avoid it altogether by not stoking up the antecedent boom, but given a bust, the treatment should be lower corporate and personal taxes. These should be financed by spending cuts, not by borrowing which signals future tax rises. And the policy-makers who oversaw this crisis should be replaced.

The book is a terrific read, and puts its whole case in fewer than 40 pages. It is both compelling and convincing. Do read it.