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A view from 2004

Brown is on the ball yet again

Gordon Brown’s continuing success as Chancellor is a journalistic frustration. His economic forecasts prove more accurate than those of his self-righteous and near permanently wrong critics. It is boring that brick by tedious brick he is laying the foundations of an economy and society that copies Scandinavia’s successes as much as those of the US. And it is infuriating that the predictions that his sums will end in a terrifying black hole never come true.

- Will Hutton, writing in the Guardian, December 2004

“Dear Chief Secretary, I’m afraid to tell you there’s no money left”

- Gordon Brown’s departing Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liam Byrne, writing to his successor, May 2010.

15 comments to A view from 2004

  • Eric

    Even in 2004 it was obvious Brown’s numbers didn’t add up. What a tool.

  • If you control the forecasts you make, the figures that prove your forecasts to be accurate and the people who produce those figures, you’re not very likely to be seen as wrong at the time, are you?

    I believe it’s officially called “statistics”, isn’t it?

  • Natalie

    I’m interested in how exactly you found that Hutton quote. Did you remember it and then google “Will Hutton Gordon Brown”?

    Whatever the route to it, this illustrates once again the frightening power of the internet to remember stupid things you said, and now cannot deny having said, a quite long time ago.

    Newspaper punditry has become harder, I think.

  • More or less, Brian. I was actually looking for a completely different spectacularly wrong comment that Will Hutton had made, or perhaps someone else had made because I never found it. It was to do with the revelation in 2004 that Greece had fudged its deficit figures in order to join the Euro and someone-or-other in the Guardian said no harm was done and people shouldn’t fuss so.

  • RAB

    Will Hutton is the Polly Toynbee of Economics journalism.
    Whatever he writes, I instictively believe the exact opposite.

  • John K

    Hasn’t Green Dave taken Hutton on as some sort of adviser? I heard something like that on the radio, it didn’t surprise me in the least, it’s exactly what I would expect le Tosseur Vert to do.

  • “Will Hutton is the Polly Toynbee of Economics journalism.”

    No, he’s worse. I’m at least willing to believe that Polly is ill informed or ignorant. Hutton talks his own book far too much for that.

  • Another Hutton joy.

    June 22 2008. We need a Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae in the UK, to be called Gordon Mac.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/jun/22/marketturmoil.creditcrunch

    “Also, the US has only been able to avert disaster in its mortgage market via the guarantees offered by two huge public mortgage banks – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – which directly or indirectly have provided 80 per cent of all new US mortgages over the last six months. Together, they guarantee more than half of the US’s £5 trillion of mortgage debt. ”

    “We are looking disaster in the face. A British version of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac must be created now. Legislation to create a Gordon Mac should be introduced before the summer recess. It should be operating by the end of September.”

    Freddie and Fannie went bust on 7 Sept 2008.

    Did you know that Will Hutton’s wife is a property developer and buy to rent landlord?

  • There’s something about Will Hutton that just always makes me want to smack him really hard.

  • RAB

    There’s something about Will Hutton that just always makes me want to smack him really hard.

    Face like a potato? Smug air of certainty and self importance?

    Who else does that remind me of? Ah yes our new leader!

    Quite right John K, iDave has taken him on to head an enquiry in to top peoples public sector pay.

    That will be bonuses all round then, will it?

  • Steve B

    Oh dear. I thought Mr Hutton being Camerons man to look into wage “inequality” was bad, now I find it’s even worse!

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Will Hutton, nice man, shame that he’s so wrong about so much.

  • Paul Marks

    Fannie Mae and Freddi Mac – both created by government, and then made into FAKE private companies under government control.

    For example Congressman Barney Frank instucted the head of Fannie Mae (by tradition a Democrat) over what he should do to further the (utterly insane) “affordable housing” policy. Of course Barney Frank used to do other things to him as well – but one is called homophobic for mentioning that (although it would have made no difference for the relationship to have been hetrosexual – a Congressman on the Banking Committee, and after 2006 the chairman of it, should not have been sleeping with someone high up in Fannie Mae). Almost needless to say – Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac still exist, control more of the American housing market than ever, and have been given a BLANK CHEQUE by government (Congress does not even get to vote on their subsidies anymore).

    And the head of Fannie Mae did not spend even a day in prison for false accounting – boosting Fannie Mae’s earnings (in order to get almost 100 million Dollars in bonus payments). Indeed he is now a respected individual again – going to Obama conferences and so on.

    As for Will Hutton:

    What is important about him is not that he is wrong about so many things (his books and articles show total ignorance of even basic economics – and a rabid belief in statism) if is the fact that he is taken so seroursly.

    Including by many business people and business organizations.

    It is like watching business television – Bloomberg and so on. Apart from a few guests from time to time – government is seen (by these television stations) as an all wise entity, run by noble people (not corrupt, collectivist scum like Barney Frank) there to protect the population from naughty capitalism (the source of all problems).

    Every problem can be solved by “regulation” – with Charlie Rose (the main interview show on Bloomberg) even saying (without irony) that “Barney Frank should investigate this” when some economic problem was mentioned to him by a guest.

    When dealing with such people it is difficult to know where to start.

    And the fact that many managers of large business enterprises take things like Bloomberg television seriously is scary. They are the sort who also take Will Hutton seriously.

    Remember – most corporate managers went to university, and they were “good students”, not people who thought the lecturers were talking out of their backsides.

  • John K

    Paul:

    You are right about Fannie & Freddie, who sound as if they should be characters in a children’s story, rather than a gritty corruption thriller.

    Since FDR founded Fannie, these bodies, which have no equivalent anywhere else as far as I know, have turned into a giant slush fund for the Democrat machine. Wasn’t the Big O one of their biggest funding beneficiaries, even when he was just a no-mark senator from Illinois. Obviously, the Manchurian Candidate was being groomed from an early age, and the chances that he would bite the hand that fed him were, naturally, zero.

    As for the egregious Hutton, he is a media phenomenon. Get your ugly face on the telly often enough as an economics guru, and people will believe you are. Most people wouldn’t know what a fiscal stimulus was if it had batteries in it and was rammed up their bottom. Which, in a way, it has been.

  • Paul Marks

    John K.

    Yes, in his brief time in the Senate Barack Obama got more money from Fannie Mae (and the rest) per year than even Senator Chris Dodd or Congressman Barney Frank (the Chairmen of the Senate and the House banking committees).

    “But Barack was running for President” – so was Chris Dodd and so was Senator Hillary Clinton (both Dodd and Clinton were well connected to the corrupt interests – but one person proved to be much more importantly connected).

    Barack Obama was not on the edge of this corruption – he was at the heart of it. No one was better connected (via the boards of various charitable trusts – and via the Dubin-Daley Chicago Machine where businessmen, including bankers, are supposed to play ball, partly for ideological reasons, and partly “or else”).

    Nor is it just Fannie Mae.

    Do you personally know the top people in Bank of America?

    No neither do I – and neither did John McCain (in spite of being in the Senate for many years).

    But Barack Obama did – even before he was a Senator.

    The network of “Progressive” businessmen (especially in the financial services industry) is very extensive – partly because the banks are so closely interwined with the government (even before the crash).

    Indeed of the big banks in the United States I can think of only one that is not dominated by Democrats – Wells Fargo. That does not mean that Wells Fargo is any good – it just means that the top people in it are not denouncing “reactionary America” and calling for an “enlightened world order” in conferences and at social events.

    Although (of course) some Republicans do that also – so perhaps even Wells Fargo (as well as being a fractional reserve mess dependent on the Fed “dicount window” and other scams) is also run by Death-to-America types (although I hope not).

    By the way being a lifelong Progressive does not save a banker from having SEIU thugs turn up at his home – as one big person from Bank of America just found out.

    Of course this was bad for the children involved – but as for the man himself…..

    You reap what you sow.

    No matter how much money and political support you give them (such as “loans” to people who are never going to pay the money back) the left will always want more.

    And they will threaten you and your family in order to get it. And Barack Obama will only “protect” (“I am the only thing that stands between you and the pitchforks” the “pitchforks” he issues to his thugs, after all who do you think the Purple People take their orders from?) you and your family if you do exactly what he wants.

    And one day he will destroy you all anyway – no matter how “useful to the cause” you have been.