Thursday, October 09, 2008

£500bn Bail-Out Won't Work For Us

An eye-watering £500 billion is being pumped into the UK banking system, interest rates cut by half a percent. Both measures prop up the banks. Neither will curb soaring inflation, rising unemployment or people struggling with insurmountable debt. These are measures for the City and by the City. As the banks sail off into the 'wild blue yonder', the legacy of this monumental bail-out will be with us for years to come.

Brown and Darling may have written their own suicide note as, in the months ahead, the true scale of the bail-out hits home. 

The subdued response in the commons from all Parties said it all. Generally, they took it lying down. 

The government spin has been swallowed hook, line and sinker, with few stopping to think of the dire consequences. Talk of part-nationalisation with a £50 billion taxpayer stake is a disturbing prospect. 

But Northern Rock was nationalisation. This is not. Taxpayer's cash is being used to buy preference shares in the banks. Control still remains with the shareholders with no publicly accountable voice on the board.

£450 billion (of which £350 billion is 'new' money) will be available for bank borrowing and guarantees. That cash will have to be borrowed on international markets, blowing any fiscal golden borrowing rule out of the water. At a time of tightening our belts the government is doing just the opposite. 

It saddles the UK with colossal debt for years, decades to come. Borrowing such a huge sum comes with strings attached. No one, not the IMF, is gong to lend cash without commitment to tighten the belt - and that means cuts in public services and public spending. 

Cutting interest rates may get thing going - for the banks - making it easier for them to lend to each other through the inter bank lending rate. But the Bank of England has, until now, been reluctant to cut interest rates. 

There's a price to pay. Any big cut means higher inflation and higher unemployment. That concern has been thrown out of the window.

No-one has stopped to ask how we got into this sorry state. All the attention is focussed on the struggling banks. Who gives a toss about the banks. They and bad government caused this mess in the first place. 

The spin now is of bold, decisive action by the prime minister and his chancellor. Like Bush in the US, they are using the current financial disaster to make themselves look good and dig themselves out of a hole of their own making.

Borrow cash by all means - to kick start the economy - particularly to invest in manufacturing which has been decimated by the government, relying instead on an economy based solely on the financial world of the City. 

If the government was bothered about people, not their pals in the banking world, they would have taken the simple step of guaranteeing all savers deposits, as in Ireland and tacitly by Germany. That would not cost a penny and only kick in if a bank folded. 

Cash would only be used for people genuinely struggling as they come off the fixed term loans and mortgages. Others will have to face up to the harsh truth that they borrowed money too cheaply, without any checks and now, unlike the government, have to pay the price of reckless borrowing. 

In the US, Bush has pumped $700 billion of taxpayers cash in the banking system and the Fed billions more. It is having little effect. Treasury secretary, Hank Paulson, is today warning that some banks will still fail. The same could happen over here. 

People want jobs, affordable housing and tax cuts to help them through the hard times. The country needs a strong manufacturing base. The measures announced yesterday simply benefit banks not people.

As liberal economist, JK Galbraith, observed:

"For now, free at last from all threat of government reaction or retribution, the market sailed off into the wild blue yonder."

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