Posts Tagged ‘Mark Carney’

Scotland: The madness has to stop now

12/09/2014, 08:06:04 AM

by Jonathan Todd

Mental health is said to be a ‘Cinderella’ service, lacking resources. Friedrich Nietzsche maintained, though, that madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations, and ages it is the rule. He would be unsurprised, therefore, that I’ve received an email from a friend in Scotland who reports the Yes campaign is coming across “like a millennial cult”.

Similarly, Carol Craig has lamented that the approach of Stephen Noon, chief strategist for Yes, “is nationalism laced with a heavy dose of what looks like a whacky personal development philosophy”. Yes vehemently insist that doubts about UK breakup evidence only a lack of belief in the Scottish.

The then European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it would be “extremely difficult, if not impossible” for Scotland to rejoin the EU after UK breakup. The Royal Bank of Scotland will leave Scotland if the UK breaks up. Given concerns about the currency, Ultimo, the company of the Scottish business woman Michelle Mone, would also follow them south.

Scottish nationalists will insist that the Royal Bank of Scotland doesn’t really believe in Scotland. That Barroso knows nothing of the EU and simply lacks faith in Scots. That Mone is full of it. She probably isn’t actually Scottish. There is no concern that can’t be dismissed if you are a true enough Scot.

Sadly, Mone, born and raised in Glasgow, no longer feels safe in Scotland having been targeted by Siol nan Gaidheal, an ultra-nationalist group that boasts of ‘in-your-face-confrontations’ with Jim Murphy. Friends also tell me of Better Together posters resulting in smashed windows. Sections of the Scottish population have thuggishly moved beyond reason.

The exasperation of Mark Carney, the Bank of England governor, speaking earlier in the week was palpable. Currency union in the event of UK breakup would be “incompatible with sovereignty”, he observed, wearily referring to a speech that he’d given earlier in the year. He might as well have said, “I don’t know how many times I have to say this”.

If the treatment of Mone and Murphy is anything to go by, he’ll never be heard by some. Maybe heard but not accepted. Perhaps they think he’s bluffing. Or having a laugh. But this is not a stag party or another occasion for laughs. It’s even less of an occasion for laughs than a general election.


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Does Labour even have an opinion on monetary policy?

08/08/2013, 09:22:41 AM

by Jonathan Todd

This is a rare thing: some thoughts from a Labour perspective on the politics of monetary policy. Maybe it derives from reverence for the last government’s decision to make the Bank of England independent. Perhaps it comes from a slowness to appreciate how the George and Mervyn show has so smoothly transitioned to the George and Mark show. In any case, we do not hear enough from Labour on monetary policy.

Ed Miliband followed Stella Creasy is stressing the importance of having females on banknotes. While the symbolism of this is significant, it is only symbolism. As Carney was being pictured with Creasy and other campaigners, in the manner, according to Dan Hodges, of “three schoolgirls who have just won a Blue Peter competition to design a new bank note”, he was putting the finishing touches to an intervention of more than symbolic consequence.

That this heralded the age of the perpetual never-never – otherwise known as forward guidance or cheap money till the other side of the election – is also predictable. It has not come from the ether. It is what Carney did in Canada. Like all the most profitable, international consultants, he’s selling the same recommendations to a new client. As a variation on the framework adopted by the Federal Reserve at the end of last year, it is also of a piece with an emerging monetary consensus.

All of which sounds very elite and removed from the shop floor. Yet what could be more shop floor than worrying about how many people are on it? The rate of employment, in other words. By targeting the unemployment rate, Carney has created something akin to “the bank for the workers”, which I argued for at a Pragmatic Radicalism event at the start of this year.

All I was really doing at this event was cribbing the Fed’s idea. But, for some reason, there was something about targeting the unemployment rate that seemed apt for our party. The clue is in the name, as someone once said.

If the Fed is targeting the unemployment rate, wouldn’t you think both that this might be something the Labour party can call for and an idea whose time has come?


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