The Great Debate UK

Inflation or deflation: a stress test for democracy

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

The policy debate is hotting up. On one side, we have the expansionists, arguing that it’s the Nineteen Thirties all over again, that Keynes is right now as he was then – we need more, not less government spending, we are digging our own graves by cutting back, especially as the fiscal retrenchment is continent-wide, covering thrifty North Europe as well as profligate ClubMed. According to this view, fiscal contraction will exacerbate the situation by magnifying the fall in the level of economic activity, leading to a downward spiral and, incidentally, making it harder than ever to repay our debts.

On the other side, the contractionists argue that comparison with the Nineteen Thirties is grossly misleading. Debt levels were far far lower for all the major economies in those days. Most important of all, in the Nineteen Thirties the threat (which duly materialised) was deflation, not inflation, so government spending financed by printing money was riskless.

The central question then is this: is inflation actually a risk today? Or is deflation the bigger risk?

Not much stress, not much test

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

Back in the 1950’s, when most women stayed at home while their menfolk went out to work, a favourite trick of life insurance salesmen was to walk into the prospect’s home at dinner time and ask the wife:

EU stress tests: for banks or governments?

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

Worries about Europe’s banking system go back at least to 2007, but whereas the U.S. (and UK) banks appear to have weathered the storm, there are fears that for European banks the worst may lie ahead.  Concerns centre on four areas.

The NHS: Back on the operating table

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BRITAIN-US/HEALTHCARE

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

“The NHS – the envy of the world”. This is one of the Great British Myths to rank alongside “A-level standards haven’t fallen”.

Confronting the immigration conundrum

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BRITAIN-IMMIGRATION/

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

After being the third rail of British politics for a generation or more, immigration is suddenly a topic which can be spoken about in polite society.

To spend, or not to spend?

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

There is really only one question on the agenda at the G8 and G20 meetings in Toronto and in policy circles throughout Europe and North America: to cut government spending and risk recession; or to keep on spending, risking a return to inflation, or more likely to stagflation – inflation with stagnant economic activity?

Osborne unveils a momentous project

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BRITAIN-BUDGET/

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

We were promised a Budget that would be a game-changer, and that’s exactly what we got today – ambitious, dramatic, and presented with conviction and confidence (as it needed to be).
The Chancellor had four objectives in view:

Banks, borrowing, bonds and Britain’s budget

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BRITAIN/

-Laurence Copeland is a professor of finance at Cardiff University Business School and a co-author of “Verdict on the Crash” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are his own. Join Reuters for a live discussion with guests as UK Chancellor George Osborne makes  an emergency budget statement at 12:30 p.m. British time on Tuesday, June 22, 2010.-

George Osborne must be thankful to Don Fabio and his boys for ensuring that Wednesday’s tabloids will have other things to think about than the Budget, because it is going to be one of the toughest ever.

In football, the biggest losers win

“Football is just a business nowadays, isn’t it?”

Well, actually no, it’s not, and it never has been – at least not if a business means an enterprise intended to maximise shareholder value.

In the “good old days” – so called because they were bloody awful – football clubs were financed by a Big Sugar Daddy, often the millionaire who owned the local mill or maybe a small chain of shops in the town.

A history lesson for lenders

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GREECE

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

Anyone looking for a broader perspective on the events of the last three years could hardly do better than choose for bedtime reading “This Time is Different” by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff.

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