The Great Debate UK

Germany burdened by its profligate neighbours

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GERMANY/- Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own –

It has been said that those who forget their history are condemned to repeat it. For Germany, one of the bitter ironies of the mess in Europe is that it is repeating its history precisely because its policy has been too closely focused on avoiding the same old mistakes.

From the outset, ordinary Germans were unenthusiastic about monetary union, many instinctively suspecting that somehow or other they would end up paying the bill for a ClubMed beanfeast, but the case made by their leaders, notably Chancellor Helmut Kohl, a man steeped in history but dismissive of economics, was that ever closer union with France was Germany’s manifest destiny.

With the end of the Cold War, a reunified Germany had to be locked into a wider union to prevent it ever again drifting off into its own dreams of European domination. In that sense, surrendering their beloved Deutschemark was viewed as the price that Germany had to pay for its own reunification at the end of the Cold War.

Why we have to support Ireland

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IRELAND-POLITICS/– Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own. –

Supporting Ireland to the tune of a few billion quid must look like a no-brainer to the British Government. We should not make the same mistake as the Germans, who managed to get the worst of both worlds over Greece – forced by the scale of their bank exposure to support Greece, but providing the money with ill will, causing bitterness rather than gratitude – and now repeating the error in the Irish case.

Thank you, Gordon Brown

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BRITAIN-INFLATION/–Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.–

If the economics profession has sunk in public estimation in the last two or three years, it would hardly be surprising. Our failure to predict the crisis is something which cannot be simply brushed aside lightly, as some of my colleagues would love to do.

Is there a way out of the currency war?

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CHINA-USA/CURRENCY-WARCompetitive devaluation is no longer a possible danger – it is already here. Many people are worried that, after global stock market crashes and a collapse of most of the world’s banking system, a war over exchange rates completes a sequence of events that looks awfully like a rerun of the 1930’s. There is however one crucial difference. The Chinese role certainly makes matters more complicated, though it is as yet unclear whether it makes the outlook better or worse.

The key point to understand about the belligerents is this. In the context of purely self-interested beggar-my-neighbour economic policy, devaluation makes good sense for the Eurozone countries as a whole, the British, the Japanese, Swiss, Koreans… for everyone except the Americans. Whether they are deficit countries, like Britain, or surplus countries, like Switzerland, Korea or Japan, devaluation will increase demand for their exports and make their imports more expensive, giving a boost to their output and employment. And if other countries retaliate by counter-devaluation, they can tell themselves that their situation would have been worse if they had not taken the initiative and got their retaliation in first.

What can the U.S. learn from the Spending Review?

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Watching George Osborne present the results of the Government’s Comprehensive Spending Review last week, two thoughts went through my mind.

On a personal level, how could I have been so wrong about Cameron and Osborne? A pre-election blog of mine was titled “A Pair of Lightweights”. Both have already done enough to assure even the most cynical observer (which probably doesn’t mean me) that they are every bit as serious as the job they face.

Monetary policy: QE2 or the Titanic?

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“Those whom the gods would destroy, they first drive mad.” – the words of a wise Roman thinker (or was it a Greek central banker?). At any rate, the gods certainly seem to have no benevolent intentions with regard to this country, judging by the statements coming from the Bank of England, in particular the calls for another round of quantitative easing from one member of the Monetary Policy Committee and the cry of “Spend, spend, spend” from another.

The view emerging from the Bank and the Monetary Policy Committee is that the country is in the grip of a slow-growth recession, facing the threat of Japanese-style deflation and a double-dip recession, and that this grim situation requires near-zero interest rates, supported by QE2 if necessary, in order to restore consumption and lending (including mortgages) to pre-crisis levels.

Why I have to sleep with the enemy

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OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-PAY

-Laurence Copeland is professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own. -

A week or two ago, I posted a blog bemoaning the size of Britain’s public sector and expressing the fervent hope that the ill wind of the financial crisis would blow much of it away, leaving room for private industry to expand in its place.

“Always a borrower, never a lender be”

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OUKTP-UK-BRITAIN-PRICES

-Laurence Copeland is professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own and do not constitute investment advice. -

The first chapter of the Eurozone crisis story has ended as expected, with the Germans (and Dutch and Austrians) left to foot the bill, repeating the pattern we have seen in the last couple of years, at the micro and macro level: savers bailing out borrowers, the solvent rescuing the insolvent, the responsible minority rescuing the feckless majority from the consequences of their irresponsibility. No wonder banks don’t want to lend and firms don’t want to invest.

Waiting for the other shoe to drop

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USA/

-Laurence Copeland is professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School. The opinions expressed are his own and do not constitute investment advice. -

The unemployed and the terminal insomniacs who have nothing better to do than read my blogs will know that I have long been gloomy about most of the Western economies. How can you fail to be pessimistic when the world economy is still dominated by the U.S. – a basket case, becoming weaker every day, with a political class too blind or too scared to admit in public the obvious fact that the country cannot carry on living beyond its means?

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