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from The Great Debate UK:

Apocalypse Now: A return to high borrowing, high taxes and weak growth


--Gerard Lyons is chief economist at Standard Chartered. Any opinions expressed are his own. --

Britain is clearly a Jekyll and Hyde economy. Or that at least is what the Chancellor would like us to believe. The bad news we are now seeing in the economy, public finances and across parts of the financial sector will not last. We are in the Mr Hyde phase. But, don't worry, we will soon be back to the normal Dr Jekyll soon.

The Chancellor believes the recession will end by year end. That is credible. But then he believes recovery will be rapid, and after contracting 3.5 percent in 2009 we will see growth of 1.25 percent in 2010 and 3.5 percent in 2011. This is fantasy, particularly as this rapid rebound is expected to occur not only as the legacy of the debt bust lingers on, but also as fiscal policy is tightened aggressively through significant tax hikes, largely on those on high incomes.

Strong growth, tax increases and efficiency savings are, the Chancellor believes, about to reduce the budget deficit by half over the next four years. I have my doubts. The legacy of this borrowing binge will live on for much longer.

from The Great Debate UK:

Little room for manoeuvre in budget


--Gerard Lyons is chief economist at Standard Chartered. The opinions expressed are his own. Lyons will also blog his post-budget thoughts on The Great Debate.--

The outcome of this financial crisis depends on the economic fundamentals, the policy response and confidence. Chancellor Alistair Darling presents this Budget in an environment where the fundamentals are poor, confidence has been shot to pieces and the credibility of policy and his ability to spend any more is being widely questioned.