Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Shaking the British Establishment

It's interesting that Canadian Mark Carney has been appointed Governor of the Bank of England. Carney is very able. But it is a huge blow to BoE insiders like Paul Tucker, who had spent twenty-five years specifically working very are to get the top job someday.

Interestingly, it is a sign of much deeper disarray and loss of confidence in the British economic establishment. From the Guardian:

Rachel Lomax is practically the definition of establishment: Cheltenham Ladies' College followed by Cambridge and the LSE; principal private secretary to then-chancellor Nigel Lawson; deputy governor of the Bank of England for five years until 2008. Which makes what she said on Friday evening all the more startling.

This being a debate on the future of capitalism in the People's Republic of Bristol, the audience were satisfyingly radical – but Lomax was just as bluntly and disarmingly political. The former Treasury mandarin made no bones about admitting that she had been part of a project of "dismantling a version of capitalism" and replacing it with "Anglo-American neo-liberalism". You'd struggle to get scholars of Thatcherism to speak with such straightforwardness, but here it was coming from one of the era's key backroom players.

And now this co-architect of Britain's economic model as good as admitted that the system she had helped create was broken. But Lomax had one question: "Where is the revolutionary thinking?"

You surely couldn't ask for a better measure of the economic mess we're in, that even members of the establishment are now calling for revolution.

Striking as it is, such despair isn't exceptional. Indeed, it now appears endemic among the policy-making elite. Whether you look at Westminster or Threadneedle Street, Britain's economic officials reek of policy fatigue – of having riffled through all the pages in their textbooks without getting a good answer.

That also exists here in the US.


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