The Great Debate UK
-Tony Cleaver is senior teaching fellow in Economics and Finance in the Durham University School of Economics, Finance and Business. The opinions expressed are his own.-
George Osborne is taking a risk.
The Chancellor is also placing himself firmly in the orthodox school of financiers who assert that governments must balance their own books even in times of recession.
The Chancellor’s action to add to the squeeze on public finances already started by his predecessor (aiming to raise 40 billion pounds to the 73 billion pounds already provided for by former Chancellor Alastair Darling) and to reduce government borrowing down from over 10 percent of GDP to close to 1.1 percent in the space of five years implies kicking away the support of the UK economy that the country has desperately needed.
It is worth remembering that substantial government spending was called for after the 2008 credit crunch caused a collapse in the private sector that was at the time threatening a 1930s-like slump.
- David Byrne is a professor at the School of Applied Social Sciences, Durham University. The opinions expressed are his own. -
Reuters’ guest blogger Laurence Copeland omitted two words in his description of Tuesday’s budget – the words being ‘stupid’ and ‘unfair’.
-Joe White is managing director of Moonfruit.com. 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.-
The first Tory budget is a critical one. The Treasury and Chancellor George Osborne have been dropping hints for weeks about a big slash in public sector spending in an effort to try and prepare Whitehall for the worst, and to rally the private sector to step in and fill the deficit.
-Julia Whittle is head of International at Punter Southall Financial Management. The opinions expressed are her 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.-
It is highly unlikely previous Capital Gains Tax proposals will be reversed in Chancellor George Osborne’s first budget.
-Ruth Porter is communications manager at the Institute of Economic Affairs. The opinions expressed are her own. Join Reuters for a live discussion with guests as Chancellor George Osborne makes an emergency budget statement at 12:30 p.m. British time on Tuesday, June 22, 2010.-
George Osborne has the chance to do something really radical on Tuesday in his budget statement.
– Ian Campbell is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –
The UK sounds Greek again. Britain’s new government is finding skeletons in the fiscal cupboard. George Osborne, the incoming chancellor of the exchequer, is appointing an independent watchdog to check the numbers out. The gilt market perhaps ought to recoil at the revelation that things are even worse than thought. But it’s more likely to look on the bright side: coalition honeymoon, transparency and rectitude to come.
UK government bonds will for now probably continue defying threats that kill in the Aegean. A record peacetime deficit, an inflation rate of 3.4 percent, a plunging pound: no matter, UK 10-year paper has risen in value by about 2 percent this year and yields a miserly 3.8 percent. But while Osborne’s deficit-cutting commitment will reassure, the medium-term risks to gilts remain great.
Gilts’ appeal is largely relative. UK debt levels have worsened appallingly — but are not yet appalling. Britain, like the United States, is rightly judged to have a more adaptable economy than the euro zone’s. The pound can weaken, helping competitiveness and growth and therefore favouring rebalancing of the government’s accounts.
But the growth that can save is not strongly in evidence now. Mervyn King, the Bank of England governor, has warned of possible growth disappointment as fiscal cuts kick in. Ironically this is another factor supporting gilts. Inflation is up, but is expected to be dragged down by economic weakness. That means interest rates will probably remain low, favouring bonds.
Still, gilts investors cannot be complacent. The fiscal deficit is huge but money-printing — quantitative easing — exceeded it in the year to March. Spencer Dale, the BoE’s chief economist, speculated last week that QE had taken about one percentage point off gilt yields. Unless the economy worsens, the BoE is unlikely to resume gilt purchases. And one day it must start selling its gilt mountain.
There are other big risks. The coalition honeymooners may fall out. The economic turnaround will be extremely hard to generate. And Osborne’s fiscal surgery may half kill the patient. For a UK that has much to do to stop its debt spiralling, gilt returns look poor. But the remarkable bonds may smile through the honeymoon all the same.
– Hugo Dixon is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own –
The new UK coalition deserves 7 out of 10. The pact between the Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties, led by David Cameron as the new prime minister, seems determined to address the country’s most important problem — the deficit. This is vital given that the euro zone debt crisis could still prove contagious. It should also be positive for sterling.
— Neil Collins is a Reuters columnist. The views expressed are his own –
National Insurance contributions make an unlikely battleground for the British election. They lack the sexiness of income tax cuts. But NI is a bad tax and the Tories are right to pledge to overturn Labour’s plan to raise it.
Unfortunately, their timing smacks of desperation as their poll lead melts away. More to the point, it flies in the face of their commitment to cut Britain’s vast budget deficit.
- Edward Croft is CEO of Stockopedia, a UK-based website which aggregates research, commentary and analysis for investors and offers social networking opportunities. The opinions expressed are his own. He will participate in a Reuters Budget live blog at noon GMT on Wednesday, March 24, 2010. Please tune in and join the discussion. -
In his recent ‘New Economic Model’ speech, Shadow Chancellor George Osborne rightly emphasised the need to restore a savings culture in this country. Investment to GDP is the lowest of any G7 country.
-David Kuo is director at The Motley Fool. The opinions expressed are his own -
There is a well-trodden saying that markets hate uncertainty. Elections are inevitably uncertain, so until the votes in the next election are counted we cannot be certain which party will govern the UK.
Currently, there are suggestions that no single party may get sufficient votes to form the next government outright. It is true that the Conservatives have a strong lead over its rivals. However, with a first-past-the post voting system, it only takes a small swing away from the Conservatives to change the complexion of the next parliament.