The Great Debate UK
- Alf Vanags is director of the Baltic International Centre for Economic Policy Studies. The opinions expressed are his own. -
On April 28, 1925 the then Chancellor of the Exchequer, Winston Churchill, put Britain back on the gold standard at the pre-World War I parity, a move that was strongly criticized by Maynard Keynes in his pamphlet “The Economic Consequences of Mr. Churchill”.
The lack of competitiveness that faced Britain as a result of Churchill’s action pales into insignificance when compared with Latvia’s today, where the Churchill role is taken by Bank of Latvia President Ilmars Rimsevics. The scale of the problem is illustrated in the following chart, which tracks real exchange rate developments using unit labour cost indices since EU accession in 2004.
As can be seen Latvian competitiveness has declined by more than 75 percent as against countries such as Sweden or Germany and rather less against the EU 27 as a whole. The so-called internal devaluation will be a very painful and prolonged process. A major adjustment of the exchange rate would provide an overnight adjustment to competitiveness, would remove the ongoing uncertainty about the exchange rate and would provide a boost to demand for Latvian produced goods – both from exports and import substitution.
-Morten Hansen is head of the economics department at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Latvia, with its 18 percent year-on-year economic decline, ruthless budget cuts to meet the demands stated by the IMF-EU bailout package and recurring rumours of devaluation, may be the most written about country in the world right now, at least on a per capita basis.
Europe rarely features highly in European election campaigns in Britain. In the 2004 campaign the word Euro more often than not referred to a football tournament rather than the single currency. And for at least two reasons, we shouldn’t expect European integration to be much discussed.
Mon Dieu! Are the Germans starting to behave like the French?
Berlin’s efforts to salvage carmaker Opel from the wreckage of U.S. auto giant General Motors pose as big a challenge to Europe’s single market as French attempts earlier this year to tie loans to its carmakers to keeping jobs and factories in France.
from Luke Baker:
For the best part of 12 years, Labour has pursued essentially conservative (with a small 'c') economic policies, steadily underburdening itself of the 'fiscally unreliable' tag that some earlier Labour administrations were (wrongly or rightly) saddled with.
And for most of the past 12 years, as the global economy steadily expanded and Britain's along with it, with aggregate wealth rising smoothly, Labour looked strong at the helm each time the budget came around.
Though it’s a cliche to say that a budget is eagerly awaited you can be forgiven for saying so this time around. This year all eyes and ears will be focused on the Chancellor’s economic figures and forecasts. The big question is how will he balance the books – cut public spending or raise taxes? In the run up to an election cuts are ideal but needs must. What will it mean for personal finances?
from The Great Debate:
Britain's banks are fulfilling their Darwinian role, to survive, rather than their economic one, to lend, and there is no easy or painless way out.
A glance at the latest Bank of England Credit Conditions Survey makes grim reading, with yet another marked tightening of lending conditions to households and businesses. Loans are harder to get and more expensive where available, which is hardly surprising given rising defaults and a hardening view that the UK will suffer a long and deep recession.
from The Great Debate:
With the U.S., Japan and Britain -- nearly 40 percent of the global economy -- facing the threat of deflation, it's going to be just too easy for one, two or all three of them to get the policy response horribly wrong.
The global economy is so connected, and our experience with similar situations so limited that the scope for error is huge.