Friday 18 September 2020

Our economy: what to do next.


Tucked away in a long article by Gordon Brown in the Guardian on Tuesday 15th September were short and long term suggestions for sustaining and then reforming our economy.

Although he doesn't actually say it I'm pretty sure I'm not putting words into his mouth by suggesting that he believes we should take appropriate action now and worry about paying for it later.

 In the short run he states that we should:

1. a.  maintain  furlough payments for key sectors

    b.  along with a pay-subsidy for part-time work

    c.  and offering retraining opportunities during absence from work.

2. For those forced to isolate, a serious increase in the £90 a week allowance. (My own suggestion would be at least to the Retirement Pension rate of £134 a week, or perhaps even the "new" rate of £175 a week).

3.  An expansion of the youth employment programme which presently covers only 350 000 young people, to cater for the 3.5 million under 25s not presently in full-time education or training.  He cites Labour's 2009 "Future Jobs" programme as an example to follow. 

In the longer term Mr Brown refers to the international action he coordinated following the 2008 crash and deplores the fact that no such international co-operation has as yet been organised to combat the effects of the pandemic.  He advocates:

1.  The Bank of England's remit (and those of other Central Banks?) should be expanded  to include maintaining high levels of employment as well as controlling inflation.

2.  International agreement to abandon the now discredited Washington Consensus with its focus on balanced budgets, deregulation, liberalisation and privatisation.

3.  Replacing  this with a consensus that prioritises:

  a.  Fair trade

  b.  Limits to destabilising capital flows.

  c.  Challenges to monopolistic behaviour.

  d.  Support for  science and innovation.

4.  Urgent international action to combat climate change and global heating.

5.  Urgent action to combat unacceptable levels of inequality both within and between economies.

It all sounds good to me. I hope Rishi Sunak, or at least someone in the Treasury Team,  reads the Guardian.

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