Conservative economics: what's happened to the UK economy after a year of Tory rule


#1

[Read the post]


#2

Fair enough, but we know it’s all down to the fact that Jeremy Corbyn doesn’t bow at a sufficiently deferential angle.


#3

It’s true the Tories always claim to represent economic wisdom, and are somehow believed, even though they routinely buttfuck the great majority of people in economic terms. But graphs and statistics are not the way to make this point, because that’s exactly the trap they’ve set.

See, they aren’t in control of the economy any more than anyone else is. If humanity, as a race, knew a way to avoid recessions, then we wouldn’t have recessions. What the Tories have really mastered is the superstition of economics. Not being distracted by real-life outcomes like “justice” and “starving children”, they can focus on incantations about GDP and credit ratings. It’s exactly the same social function as Druids praying to Hecate for a bountiful harvest (and equally useful).

Counter-arguments that rely on macroeconomics are doomed to fail, because you’re validating the idea that politics is about macroeconomic abstractions. And then the Tories have the advantage, because every time you try to talk about reality-- real-life hospitals or schools or whatever-- they’ll just be like “pfft, how economically naive of you, we all know that maintaining the Frammistat index at 12.3% is more important than extinguishing that pile of burning toddlers”.


#4

To quote my favourite economist, “Economics is about as scientific as theology”.

However, they have been able to do it because Tony Blair didn’t care about numbers, he left that to his henchpersons. And New Labour was just as in thrall to “woo-woo end of history and free markets won” economics as were some of the Conservatives. Like Tessa Jowell who believed that the solution to the run down North was 24 hour drinking and casinos.

The desperate attempts to sabotage the emergence of an actual Opposition seem to be in a bit of trouble at the moment, though. Despite all the spin it was a good week for Labour - not only a better percentage than expected for Khan but a Labour mayor in Bristol - and a bad week for New Labour, who dominate the Party in Scotland and got trashed.

The big problem for both parties is that the only way to grow an economy is to transfer spending power to poorer people, who actually buy goods and services locally, and away from electronic capital that sits largely in an unproductive stock market casino that has long stopped doing its job. And that will be resisted to the end by the billionaires.
The Putin solution - to shake down the billionaires from time to time - isn’t available to the West so long as the present order continues in the USA.

If the best Cameron could do was claim that his mother would tell Corbyn to buy a more expensive suit (he was wearing one at the time, so…) he’s losing the argument, because he’s into “salute the uniform, not the officer” territory. And we know what kind of officer has that said about him.


#5

Looking at 1 year doesn’t really show how bad the Tories have been at handling the economy.

Because they have actually been in charge of it since may 2010, when they came into government with the help of their supine collaborators in the coalition government. And they were not quite elected on a platform of being good at managing the economy, blaming the 2008 -09 global economic crisis on the previous government.

So let’s take a longer-term look at how their policies of austerity for all(except if you were in the top income tax bracket- then you got a big tax cut) fared

See that- We have a quick, V shaped recovery in GDP, which comes to a shuddering halt as soon as they came into power and killed any form of fiscal stimulus. And growth has been anaemic ever since, slipping back below zero at a couple of points (but nicely massaged so it didn’t have to be called a double dip recession)

Business confidence- same picture. Recovering strongly before they came to power, immediately goes into reverse. Has been up and down since then, but no strong and consistent recovery.

Consumer confidence- this one is more dramatic. It immediately goes into reverse as soon as they are elected, and stays at deep recession levels for years, before eventually recovering (and is now on the way back down again). This is all of course despite record low interest rates which have made paying down debt cheaper.

Youth unemployment- this one is especially relevant, since they campaigned on it in order to (not quite) get elected back in 2010. They then went on to make youth unemployment worse, for years.It’s only recently gone back to pre-recession levels, which will leave years of school leavers dealing with the aftermath of entering a terrible job market.

And that’s before we get onto flat-lining wages, the re-imposition of slavery (not kidding- forcing people to work without wages was an actual policy), and al the other pain they chose to impose.

So really, it’s worse than the article says. We’ve had the best part of a decade of this.


#6

Oh hey, this is only the start. We gave Bush eight years, and look what happened!


#7

Same here with Schröder’s Agenda 2010. Most of the then appointed ministers of the SPD are still proud that they implemented the “world’s best low-pay sector”. The beginning of the end of the social-democratic party in Germany, the remains are in ruins and are firmly placed in the 20% election result as junior partner of the conservative CDU.


#8

Putin’s 'solution" is hardly a solution at all. Under Putin, a significant portion of the economy is simply wasted away on bribes, protection money, etc


#9

A larger significant portion of the economy than in countries like the US.


#10

Perhaps the available corruption metrics are designed to capture informal arrangements and neglect formal arrangements that just so happen to impact the poor.

But compare Russia to, say, Uruguay


#12

Also, when some billionaire is shaken down, the proceeds go to the billionaires who do the shaking:


#14

I know, it was by way of being a joke.


#15

but…

We classify deposit-taking banking as a crony industry because of its implicit state guarantee, but if we lumped in hedge-fund billionaires and other financiers, too, the share of American billionaire wealth from crony industries would rise from 14% to 28%. George Soros, by far the richest man in the hedge-fund game, is worth the same as Phil Knight, a relative unknown who sells Nike training shoes. Mr Soros’s fortune is only a third as large as the technologyderived fortune of Bill Gates.

Having things be "above board’ really only matters if you intend to do anything about it.


#16

In complex systems, there would be a delay between cause and consequence. What we are seeing now is the effect of 4 years of labour policy and tories grappling to deal with it.


#17

Actually, economics is considerably less scientific then theology. Theology has had a pretty consistent and well documented methodological approach for two millennia. Unlike economist whose methods change to accommodate their fads. Theologians are pretty uninventive just sticking to good old hermeneutics.


#18

I completely disagree, and I did actually read theology. What you’ve done is try to confine theology to hermeneutics, but it is much, much more than that. And even within hermeneutics the methodology shifts and splits - between a Catholic theologian, a Protestant literalist, a higher critic and a lower critic are vast differences. There are also great differences in time.

The significance of the remark is that economists and theologians usually belong to a tradition and have particular axes to grind, and their conclusions are only as good as the security of their foundations. In neither case has anyone succeeded in doing an experiment which has results that can yield a statistically significant interpretation - unless you count George Bernard Shaw’s taking out his watch and saying “OK God, if you exist prove it by striking me dead in the next minute”.

However, both economics and theology do have this in their favour - they describe and account for certain aspects of human behaviour.


#19

It’s far more complex than that. What happened in 2008 was the result of the best part of 30 years of lasseiz-faire non-intervention & deregulation in the financial sector inspired by the Chicago School. Labour (and the Lib Dems) then sat back and let the Tories spout this narrative that somehow it wasn’t a culture of irresponsibility in the financial sector & a move to making money rather than ‘things’, rather poor people wanting to live in a degree of dignity.


#20

Shouldn’t we be looking at comparisons before blaming any particular government policy (you know, as a kind of control group type thing)? Here’s some GDP trend graphs that turn up in a little searching. I’m sure the Independent could have put together a set of cross country figures for each measure to aid the reader drawing conclusions, but didn’t because they wanted to blame someone.

Not a fan of the Conservatives, but the quick conclusion I came to is that it looks like nobody is doing it particularly better and some countries are definitely doing worse, though why is not clear. I didn’t dig into with the gusto that the real Press should, for sure, but I’m labeling this as Poor Reporting from the Inde, doesn’t convince me.

Happy to accept further evidence…




USA



#21

OK, but your best comparison here is the USA, which is doing significantly better than the UK. The eurozone countries are doing poorly because they have in effect fixed exchange rates with their major trading partners, which means that they,unlike the UK, don’t have the advantage of being able to set their own interest rates or the trade advantages of a floating currency.


#22

I think we’ve actually had Tory rule since at least 1979; New Labour being Continuity Thatcherite Conservative.