Welcome readers, to my newly refreshed blog, and thanks to Georgia Lee and Maz Kessler for making it look so good, and work so well. I had thought that the title needed refreshing too. After all, I am fond of defining 9th August, 2007 as ‘debtonation day’, and that is now long past.
To refresh your memory: it was on that day that the world’s banks woke up to the scale of their debts, and to the simple truth that they may not all be repaid. On that day, the French investment bank BNP Paribas suspended three investment funds due to a “complete evaporation of liquidity” in the market. BNP’s announcement compelled the intervention of the US’s Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, which both pumped $90billion into the global banking system. As Larry Elliott notes, 9 August, 2007 ” has all the resonance of August 4 1914. It marks the cut-off point between “an Edwardian summer” of prosperity and tranquillity and the trench warfare of the credit crunch – the failed banks, the petrified markets, the property markets blown to pieces by a shortage of credit. ”
So ‘debtonation’ stands as a reminder of that day. However, we also know that the private debts of the individuals, households but also more importantly the corporate sector have not ‘debtonated’. They are still on the books, and in the case of the private sector in the UK, but also wider Europe, look set to rise further. As Douglas Coe and I have pointed out in a paper we have written for PRIME, “Private debt has risen relentlessly since the early 1980s. Most commentators focus on the extent of household debt, which rose from around 40 per cent of GDP before the 1980s to a peak of 110 per cent in 2009. But corporate debt is even more elevated, rising from 50-60 per cent to a peak of 130 per cent in 2009. The latest National Accounts show that both measures fell back in 2010, but only by a very small margin: households to 105 per cent of GDP and corporates to 125 per cent.”
Continue reading… ›
By Ann Pettifor – Posted March 16th on Labour List
Together with the Prime Minister of Greece, Mr. George Papandreou, I am going to give evidence to the EU’s Special Committee on the Financial Crisis in Brussels this Thursday, March 18th.
So today’s leaked report from the EU, arguing that Labour’s plans for cuts to public spending are not “ambitious enough”, has got me really het up.
Labour, it appears, is just not ambitious enough about its goals for cutting investment and exacerbating unemployment. It does not have punitive enough targets for cutting benefits to the poor and services for the mentally ill and frail.
In the “imbecile idiom” (to quote Keynes) of today’s financial fashion, the EU, it seems, would prefer for unemployment to rise, for people to live in hovels, and for government “to shut out the sun and the stars” – so that we conform to an arbitrary number set in Frankfurt by a group of bankers, under a pact unwisely signed by an earlier British government.
Continue reading the article…
21 February, 2010
Once again apologies for a longish absence. This is down in part, to smashing (literally) building works, to a little grandchild-minding, and to other writing commitments. But have been itching to comment on a) Greece and the EU b) Iceland (it seems the UK is easing up on the pressure); c) the progress of the global recession; and d) China-US relations…..so posts on a, b, c and d are on their way….promise.
In the meantime this is the text of a letter I signed and helped draft, published in today’s Observer, and yesterday (20 Feb 2010) in the Times. It is a response to the letter written to the Sunday Times last week by 20 conservative economists, including Ken Rogoff of Harvard, Lord Megnad Desai, previously a Labour peer, and Bridget Rosewell, who was Mayor Ken Livingstone’s economic adviser.
Our letter has a number of distinguished economists as signatories, as well as my pals in the Green New Deal group – all of whom I am proud to be associated with. See below.
We urge the UK government not to heed the siren song of the 20 economists who, having failed to predict the crisis, now seek to advise on its resolution. The world economy is in the deepest recession since the Great Depression. In the UK, output has collapsed by £70bn on an annual basis. Under such conditions, common sense tells us that the government must compensate for the collapse in private investment and address the high level of unemployment.
The only way to restore the public finances to health is to restore the economy to health.
Continue reading… ›
5th February 2010
My conversation earlier this week with Elena Sisti – of Italy’s Altreconomia on macro-economics, reform of the finance sector, money, and yes, how we women have left the all-important matter of finance to the boys. Big mistake. It’s time to get in there, and exercise influence. Too much is at stake. Continue reading… ›
17th January, 2009.
This was posted on the Compass site on the 16th January.
I am shortlisted for the North West Durham Parliamentary Selection. A less likely candidate you would be hard pressed to find. I am not a local big wig and did not grow up in the constituency. I don’t have the backing of big hitters – either in the party, or in the unions. Nor am I a youthful 25-year-old, ambitious for power. No, I am far more ambitious than that.
I want the people (especially the young people) of North West Durham to have a sound and stable future. I want Britain to learn from the catastrophic debacle of the financial crisis, and ensure it never happens again. The hopes, aspirations, health, jobs, businesses and climate of Britain must not be sacrificed to pay for economic failure engineered by a small elite in the City of London.
Continue reading… ›
15th January, 2009.
Patient readers this blog is triggered by Jeff Randall’s column in the Daily Telegraph today.
In it he inadvertently discloses the identity of the puppet-masters dictating the Tory political agenda around public spending cuts.
In a somewhat histrionic column in which he describes the public deficit as a ‘disaster’ ( he should mind his language: Haiti’s earthquake is a disaster) Randall quotes a piece of ‘research’ by the French bank, Société Générale. The paper is titled “Popular Delusions” and its authors explain some simple facts about government spending cuts to Telegraph readers:
Continue reading… ›
7th January 2010,
Read Ann Pettifor and Jeremy Smith’s letter on why Iceland must NOT repay the debt in the FT today:
” Sir, The president of Iceland’s refusal to approve repayment to the British and Dutch governments should be welcomed (January 5). The pause gives the Anglo-Dutch governments an opportunity to withdraw their demand for full repayment from the government of Iceland, a country whose population at 317,000 is somewhat smaller than Leicester’s.
The UK and the Netherlands, with a combined population of 76m, should cease to use economic force majeure on a tiny country, and accept the principle of co-responsibility for the crisis. Repayment of the nationalised losses of a private bank amounts to €12,000 per Icelandic citizen, and will inevitably impact harshly on their lives and public services. By contrast the cost to Dutch and British taxpayers of the bail-out will be about €50 per capita.
We understand the strong desire of the present government of Iceland to restore the country’s tattered reputation.
But anyone reading the financial press in 2007 and 2008 (as opposed to the academic reports commissioned by Iceland’s chamber of commerce) would have known that Iceland’s banks were far from risk-free. That was why British and Dutch depositors enjoyed good rates of return on their deposits.
The British and Dutch governments have sound political reasons for protecting small savers lured into shark-infested financial waters. What is unjust is that the tiny population of Iceland should be forced to bear the full costs of the laxity of Icelandic, British and Dutch regulators and the reckless behaviour of private bankers and risk-takers. “
Read the letter on the FT website here.
31st December, 2009
First, thank you for the support you have given this blog, and for your helpful and insightful comments over this eventful year. I have much appreciated our conversations, and your loyalty. May 2010 bring you all peace of mind and economic stability. And may we together begin to grow a new political climate and a new political class, that will finally detach itself from the financial elite, and respond to democratically-determined priorities for peace, stability and social justice.
Second, apologies for this period of hibernation over the holiday season. I blame Andrew Ross Sorkin (of the New York Times) whose 540 page blow-by-blow account of the events leading up to the failure of Lehman Brothers and the massive TARP bail-out of October, 2008 is a must-read. “Too Big to Fail” was a constant companion over the holidays, interrupted only by my periodic, but lame attempts to prove that I too can bake mince pies, stuff chickens and light log fires.
Finally, a gift from the Financial Times, which yesterday published a poem illustrated here – The bankers who wouldn’t say sorry: a cautionary tale”. Martin Dickson, the paper’s deputy editor speaks for all of us through this light-hearted ditty, but does more: he warns in the last verse of what is to come as a result of financial greed and political ennui. Sadly, I, and many others, share his gloomy forecast.
It would be good to end this story
In a nice blaze of moral glory,
Like Hilaire Belloc’s clever tales
Where evil-doing always fails.
Alas, the only moral here
Is bankers just themselves hold dear.
But there’s a price we all will pay
If politicians won’t display
A little courage and crack down
Upon these unsafe, grasping clowns:
Another bomb is being built,
By bankers with no sense of guilt.
It’s ticking now, will louder tick
Unless we stop it, fast and quick.
For mark my words, believe this rhyme,
It will go off in five years’ time.
You’ll hear no end of sturm and drang.
When it explodes with a loud BANG.
12th December 2009
At the end of last month I delivered the prestigious EBOR lecture at York. My address was entitled:
“Credit, usury and political power: chasing the moneylenders from the temple that is our democracy”
Click on the link below to read a PDF version of the full lecture:
EBOR Lecture November 25th (PDF)
The Motley Fool, September 2nd, 2009
Motley Fool blogger TMF Sinchiruna spotlights the Times interview, describing me as “once ridiculed, later vindicated…” TMF Sinchiruna goes on to say: “Peter Schiff, Jim Rogers, Niall Fergusson, Ann Pettifor … these are the voices that I believe investors need to hear. Turn off the tv and look deep into the events of last year and consider for yourselves whether anything more than a hail-mary reflationary maelstrom has been heaped upon the fire that started it all.”
Read the Motley Fool article >
Also just did an interview for You and Yours on Radio 4 which was broadcast Wednesday. You can listen to it here.