Posts Tagged ‘QE’

The big ideas of 2014 and what they mean for Labour: domestic policy

30/12/2013, 06:21:01 PM

by Jonathan Todd

Nothing says Christmas like the Prospect feature on the big ideas of the year ahead. At least in the bedrooms of geeks. Thinking about them, especially when there is turkey to be eaten and mulled wine to be drunk, is the preserve of the pointy-heads.

At the same time, nothing says unprepared like a Labour party that hasn’t thought through the implications of these ideas. Uncut is here to help. The turkey and mulled wine were untouched for long enough for us to identify and discuss the most important question raised for Labour by the pot pourri of ideas.

Prospect’s annual feature is a bit of lugubrious beast, so we deal with them in three posts looking first at domestic challenges, then international issues and finally drawing together the conclusions for Labour next year.

So, first up is domestic policy, where there are 9 big ideas:

1 Rejectionist politics

How will Labour react to UKIP’s likely strong performance in 2014’s European Parliament elections? And the election to this parliament of more nationalists than ever before?

The beltway consensus is that the anti-beltway chief, Farage, will be the big winner of the 2014 European elections. It’s virtually factored into the political stock prices of 2014. The bigger doubt is whether Farage’s stock price can remain high till May 2015.

While my suspicion is that UKIP will be back around 5% by May 2015, their strong performance in the European elections will put pressure on David Cameron, as his strategy for containing UKIP will seem to be failing. Labour should note, though, that Farage is part of a broader rejectionist trend uniting UKIP with both the Tea Party in the US and populist parties of the left and right across the EU.

This trend sees all politicians as being as bad as each other and is expected to result in more nationalists than ever before ending up in the European parliament. The only way for Labour MEPs to defeat them may be to align with Conservative and Liberal MEPs – potential validation of the UKIP charge that they are all the same.

Labour needs a strategy for the EU that is both far-sighted and imbued with popular resonance. What part may be played in this by supporting an EU referendum is a related debate.

2. Beginning of the end of QE

What’s Labour’s view on monetary policy?

Quantitative Easing (QE) is “the biggest monetary policy experiment in the history of the planet,” according to Richard Lambert, a former member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. It’s an unfinished experiment of central banks in the US, UK and the rest of the EU. It seems to have averted depression. But if it is withdrawn too quickly, it may trigger recession or worse, while if it is withdrawn too slowly, it may sustain destructive inflation.


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Labour must expose the Tory wealth trap

14/08/2013, 11:05:13 AM

by Dan McCurry

The Tory wealth trap is making the rich richer, while the rest of the population either stands still or gets poorer. There is no trickle down effect caused by the squeezing the real economy with ill-timed austerity, while flooding the financial markets with cheap money, QE. All this achieves is to boost asset wealth while eroding wages, through pay freezes and inflation.

This wealth trap is caused by the desire of the Tories is to preserve their own wealth, but is exacerbated by the failure of George Osborne’s original economic policy, of expansionary austerity, whereby companies would be inspired by the cuts to invest. When that didn’t happen and the economy froze for three long years, he resorted to creating a debt bubble through subsidised mortgages.

The Tory policies are about to get worse. The current mortgage subsidy is £3.5bn. But this was only to buy new builds, which is excusable if it helps create shovel-ready jobs. However, the £3.5bn is about to be expanded to £12bn for all mortgages, just for the year running up to the general election. There couldn’t be a more blatant bribe than pumping up house prices in the run up to an election, without a care for the damage this will do to the economy in the medium and long run.

The most cynical aspect is that the pumping up of debt is all done “off-balance sheet”. George Osborne used to accuse Labour of not regulating the banks, who did off-balance sheet accounting, so who is regulating George Osborne, when he does exactly the same as a cover for his failed policies? The total amount of mortgage guarantees should be added to deficit, not recorded off-balance sheet, as this is the amount we are liable to if they go wrong.

It has always been Labour’s policy to invest in the real economy, the place where people have jobs and businesses. The original QE program was limited to creating liquidity in finance, oiling the wheels following the banking crisis. The Tories have transformed it into a massive hand out for the rich, at the expense of the rest of the economy.


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