The Great Debate UK
-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.
He must cut public spending to shore up Britain’s precarious economic situation – he has no choice.
But the fiscal crisis also means he can do far more than this.
Indeed, the Chancellor has perhaps the best opportunity in a generation to make the sweeping changes necessary for the UK to reduce the size of the state and restore economic growth.
– 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.
from UK News:
So how was it for you?
Chancellor Alistair Darling threw the dice in his pre-budget report in an attempt to bolster Labour's chances of winning the general election in 2010.
From hitting bankers with a one-off bonus tax to lowering bingo duty, Darling played to the Labour heartlands, while hoping to win back voters who have been telling pollsters that they are done with Gordon Brown.
from UK News:
Shadow Chancellor George Osborne says British retail banks should be stopped from paying big cash bonuses and use the money instead to support new lending.
"I am today calling on the Treasury and the FSA to combine forces and stop retail banks -- in other words the banks that lend directly to business and families -- paying out profits in significant cash bonuses," Osborne said during a Reuters newsmaker event.
We will bring you full coverage of Osborne’s speech, including a live video feed and blog, after which we will conduct a short social media interview with him.
– Mark Hannam is a guest columnist, the views expressed are his own. He formerly worked at the Bank of England. He currently chairs Fair Finance, a microfinance company. The views expressed are his own. –
George Osborne’s proposals to reform the UK’s system of financial regulation make for good short-term politics but bad long-term policy. He should think again.