I have long been of the view that when economic historians review the last 20 years they will condemn Gordon Brown as one of the worst Chancellors (and Prime Ministers) we ever had.
I struggle to see how any coherent case can be made for him to be considered as the new head of the International Monetary Fund in the wake of the departure of the disgraced Dominique Strauss-Kahn.
I'll offer five outstanding reasons why I think history will judge his handling of the economy so harshly.
- From the moment he took office he set about destroying our pensions system with new taxes. We are left with a legacy of a mammoth pensions funding crisis.
- He presided over an unsustainable consumer credit boom despite the constant warnings of economists.
- The system of regulation he put in place was bureaucratic, expensive but, ultimately, ineffectual and we are still clearing up the mess. Just look at the millions of PPI policies it allowed to be mis-sold. And don't even start on the mortgage market, the investment banks,the derivatives market.
- When the out-of-control banks hit a brick wall he threw public money at them but with no conditions attached, no public control and not a clue about what an exit strategy would look like.
- He is praised for his prompt response to the banking/credit crisis but actually he just laid the foundations for the next crisis by pushing billions into the economy through quantitative easing, again without any control. Now our money is, among other things, creating a boom in commodities speculation which is pushing up inflation so that ordinary people end up paying twice to bail out the banks. And still the banks are not lending to decent, well-run businesses.
That will do for starters. If the great early 20th century economist J M Keynes were alive I have little doubt that these would form the first five chapters of a searing condemnation of Gordon Brown's record entitled The Economic Consequences of Mr Brown.
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