This is the road to hell


One of Brown’s plans to boost the economy and his poll ratings, sooner rather than later, regardless of the costs, is the “biggest financial stimulus the world has ever seen". Few think Britain is in the right shape for a stimulus. Mervyn King has warned against it, markets warned too, and voters will only support it in the hope that the economy will recover.

It seems Brown will undertake any frantic measure available to boost the economy during his term, without regard for future burdens. He is playing a political and irresponsible game, inconsistent with his supposed focus on economic stability.

To make things worse, it is not even clear that the fiscal stimulus is a viable method of addressing this recession. To ‘stimulate’ Gordon must tax, borrow, or print.

If he taxes, he takes with the left hand, and dishes out with the right: a mere transfer. There may be positive multipliers on government spending, but there is a negative multiplier on all the lost private spending. As government investment is less efficient than that undertaken privately, the net effect will be negative.

If he borrows, then our debt burden will balloon into a debt bombshell of mass economic destruction. Borrowing will also take funds out of the market for loanable funds, and thus may limit the private sector’s access to funds. People will also make some adjustments in light of eventual future pain, further negating any positive elements.

If he prints, then he starts a very risky game. The private sector’s changed expectations in light of monetary inflation will mitigate the stimulus. This would then lead to redistribution rather than growth. Inflated money supply may also lead to overshoot and severe inflation, and even if that is avoided, if it is excessive it will almost certainly create the conditions for the next money-fuelled bubble.

Brown should stop trying to get the economy to a quick fix ‘boom’ for political gains, and think more about long-term stability. One hopes his G20 counterparts have restraint, and block him following what Topolanek the EU president called, the “road to hell".