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FT.com: Darling is doing his best to clean up Brown's mess (Willem Buiter's Maverecon, April 22, 2009)
Mr Darling is doing his best to clean up the mess left by his predecessor, Gordon Brown. The fiscal profligacy of Mr Brown, now prime minister, after New Labour's first term and his leadership since 1997 in the global financial regulatory race to the bottom have left the UK suffering from multiple imbalances. It is in its worst fiscal shape ever in peacetime - in the G8, only the US and Italy come close. It has a bloated financial sector, including a banking sector that is too large to save unless state support is restricted to the UK high street banking bits of UK-based global banking groups. It has a distorted and moribund housing sector and excessively indebted households.


Under the best possible scenario, taxes will have to be raised and/or public spending cut on a permanent basis by between 5 and 6 per cent of GDP to regain fiscal sustainability. The necessary permanent fiscal tightening could easily be larger. The pain will be widely felt. The ambition to bring British infrastructure back up to the level it achieved at the end of the 19th century has been postponed by another quarter-century. Education and health will suffer.


Mr Darling will therefore need luck as well as skill and determination to get Britain through this Great Contraction without having to go another round in the financial crisis. I would consider the case for a government of national unity. It would help if Mr Brown - responsible more than any one for this debacle - were to resign.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Apr 23rd, 2009 at 05:14:31 AM EST
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