Monday 20 December 2010

More Martin Wolf

Martin Wolf had an interesting article in the Business Spectator last month in which three points in particular stand out:

1. Although politicians are arguing that it would be wrong to burden our children and grandchildren with debts run up by this generation (itself a dubious concept) we also have a responsibility to hand on to them a fully-functioning public infrastructure (eg health, education, transport, water, energy, judicial, market, financial and political systems).

2. The UK government can currently borrow at a real annual rate of interest of 1%. "Never can there have been a better time to build up public assets." These would, of course, include higher education, and local authority services, both currently being slashed by the government.

3. Britain's net debt is "close to zero: thus debt is not a burden on society as a whole." In other words, very little of the UK's public debt is held overseas: citizens wearing their "taxpayer" hat are borrowing from others, largely pension funds and similar institutions, very often the same citizens wearing a different hat.

Consequently, a Keynesian policy of public expenditure to pull is out of the recession is not only desirable for the current generation but eminently affordable, and an opportunity to ensure that our children and grandchildren inherit a fully functioning civilised society.

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