The FT’s must reads
The op-ed page of the FT today is pretty essential.
Both John Monks, now of the ETUC, but my old boss, and Nick Clegg , of the Liberal Democrats, stress the need for a European response to the financial crisis. The anger in the UK government at the Irish decision to provide unlimited protection for depositors is understandable, but HMG do not have a huge amount of goodwill among EU finance ministers as Gordon has never been known for his European instincts, though perhaps the extraordinary return of Peter Mandelson may change this.
John uses the recent TUC Touchstone pamphlet on the super-rich by Stewart Lansley to help make the union case for an end to casino capitalism and the dominance of finance, though I understand the FT accidentally omitted the reference and link that would have brought us many more readers.
Martin Wolf is also critical of the Irish government’s decision, and his argument that Irish taxpayers have effectively given a blank cheque to every bank with nothing much in return is strong. The Irish economy has boomed in recent years but much of this has been down to EU aid and tax competition, and has resulted among other things in a property bubble. But more importantly he joins the call for a full half per cent cut in interest rates.
Phillip Stephens is surely right in saying:
Whatever the US election outcome, the political weather has shifted everywhere. Government is back. We have reached one of those “never again” moments. Even among voters who have little faith in government, things have gone too far. Why did politicians stand idly by while “spivs and speculators” were rigging the markets?
But he is too critical of those Europeans who have been quick to point out the limitations of the Anglo-Saxon model. Social Europe has always been build on a realisation that the undoubted wealth creating abilities of markets should be tempered with regulation and protection – regulation to save markets from themselves and protection to ease the plight of those hit by the equally strong destructive powers of markets. It is hard to see where we will all end up when we get to the other side of the crisis, but the Anglo-Saxon world may end up looking a lot more European.
And that brings us back to where John Monks and Nick Clegg brought us in.