As I've been holidaying for much of the past week (see previous post) I haven't been able to keep a close eye on the news, but I did pick up that he government is, at last, about to instigate some Keynesian pump-priming. I hear that £9bn is to be spent on the improvement of the railway network, especially here in the north, and there is to be a boost in house building. Perhaps it is churlish to ask: "What took them so long?" as precisely these and similar measures have been advocated by umpteen distinguished economist, plus his blog, for the past two years and more.
I hope the £9bn is in addition to the proposed expenditure on the high speed line from London to Birmingham, which I think is a silly prestige project rather than a useful addition to the infrastructure ( the money should be transferred to the rest of the network) and that the housing will be mixed, with a high proportion of "affordable" homes, and largely on brown-field sites.
There is some vagueness as to where the money is coming from. I hope not too much time is wasted in trying to fudge the sources so that it appears not to come from the government. We certainly don't want any more ridiculous PFI projects, from which the private sector creams huge amounts from future generations of taxpayers. There are also worries that the projects will not begin until 2014, which will mean the multiplier effect will not kick in until well beyond half-way through the decade, by which time the long-term unemployed will have been unemployed for even longer, and the huge percentage of young people without jobs will have been kicking their heels (or worse) for yet more of what should be the most exciting time of their lives.
Nevertheless, it's a start. Let's hope we hear much more of it.