Saturday, 27 August 2011

Has activist government and banking failed?


Ben Bernanke addressed the world from Jackson Hole and, it seems, said precisely nothing at all of significance. Markets flittered, skitted and fluttered as the impact of this non-statement echoed round the trading floors and bourses of the world.

In effect, as the man in charged of the world's most important central bank, Bernanke admitted defeat:

"Most of the economic policies that support robust economic growth in the long run are outside the province of the central bank," he said. 

This is interpreted as "over to you congress and president, stop already with your politics". But it's not really clear what - other than run up more debt - congress could do to stimulate the economy. And it's not exactly as if the markets are all that chipper about the prospect of ever more borrowing from governments!

It seems to me that the time of active central bank stimulus has passed - it may or may not have worked (right now the only thing for sure is that we've more inflation than we'd otherwise have) but doing more harvesting from the magic money tree is pointless and probably dangerous.

Perhaps the answer lies in politicians admitting defeat too. Smiling into the camera and saying something like - "there's not really very much we can do now other than get out of the way of business, enterprise and individual initiative - sorry but it's up to you guys now."

Followed by cutting taxes, scrapping restrictive laws on trade, freeing up markets in property, employment and energy and moving to shut down the emerging license regime in local government.

I think this would work. But whatever happens, we can't go on pretending that governments - singly or acting together - can 'save the world'. They can't. Only people can do that.


1 comment:

Clarissa said...

Sadly many members of the public and almost all of our political class still believe in the 'government' fantasy and however much those of us who don't rail against it they show no signs of budging.

Perhaps it is like Red Dwarf's 'Better than Life' - you can't quit until you want to quit.