We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

The Governor of the Bank of England chooses today to appear on Test Match Special – to talk about something entirely different

Guido reports that various opposition unworthies were at Lord’s today, watching England v India, “while Rome burns”, as he put it. Ed Balls, Charlie Whelan, and someone equally important called Kevin whom I do recognise from the picture and whose name I do know but have forgotten. MacGuire, is it?

But it was far worse than that in the fiddling while Rome burns department. As soon as it started raining, they had no less a personage than Sir Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, talking on the radio, with BBC cricket commentating supremo Jonathan Agnew. I know this, because I was listening. Is this not, I thought, rather an odd day for Governor King not to be at his desk?

Sir Mervyn talked a lot about the Chance to Shine initiative which encourages school kids to play cricket. He has an interest in cricket and its organisation that goes way back, it would seem. It all sounded very encouraging for England cricket fans like me, provided we were able to set aside details like the world’s financial system going into melt-down.

Sure enough, towards the end of their chat Aggers asked King about “events in Europe today”. Had he not done this it would have been even more surreal. King blocked all these queries with straight-batted cliches about how he and his various banking opposite numbers were in constant touch with each other, getting on top of the crisis, blah blah. If only.

Geoff Boycott (scroll down here (17:23) for a report) had a go at King for bailing out failed banks. Boycott didn’t talk to King face to face, which I am sure they took very good care to prevent. But he did send a note, which Aggers read out:

Free enterprise doesn’t work when private companies take the profits yet we the public pay for their loses. How is that right? I say put them all in jail. Geoff Boycott

King didn’t lose his cool, but he definitely sounded rather ambushed. Basically, his answer was: “When you are the BBC’s economic correspondent, I’ll answer your questions. I’m here to talk about cricket.”

Was King doing that central banker thing of deliberately not cancelling irrelevant engagements, to give the impression of business as usual, no panic, steady as she goes and all that? If so, does he seriously think anyone will be fooled?

Come to think of it, do you suppose that this is what the Emperor Nero himself thought he was doing, when he played on his instrument all those years ago? Fire? What fire? No no, just a little local difficulty. Soon blow over. Relax. Everything under control.

Maybe Nero was just doing music so he could ignore awkward incoming phone calls.

England are 127-2, this having been the somewhat disappointing (because cut short by rain) first day of a potentially very absorbing four match series. I’m watching the highlights now on the telly. India and England are, in that order, now to two top ranked test playing international cricket teams. If England can win this four match series by a margin of two matches or more, they will go top. England have a definite chance of doing that.

As for the chance that Mervyn King and his various opposite numbers will manage to stop that financial crisis from getting any worse, well, that I wouldn’t rate quite so highly.

Tweet about this on TwitterShare on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on TumblrShare on RedditShare on Google+Share on VK

9 comments to The Governor of the Bank of England chooses today to appear on Test Match Special – to talk about something entirely different

  • I think you’re being far too cynical. Mr King is clearly a very wise man and cricket could do a lot worse than adopting some of his ideas. For instance, say England are 500 runs and an innings behind with one wicket left (let’s face it not an unlikely situation given that they are up against the stars of the IPL) then rather than just lose they could partially dismantle the wicket and in return for one of its component parts (an act which will become known as a “bail out”) receive the missing runs from the Bank of Cricket which, as the scorer of last resort, would have the power to magic up the necessary runs out of thin air.

    This would massively help to restore confidence in the English game while delivering a bloody nose to the evil speculators at BetFair. There’s even every chance that as England’s recovery continues we’ll get our runs back.

  • Paulm

    Wasn’t he a permanent fixture at the Royal box at the Wimbledon tennis tournament a couple of weeks ago also?

    The man’s a workaholic freeloader.

  • pete

    I’m pleased to hear that Test Matches still happen.

    Is there somewhere you can still get an ice lolly for 3d or a Matchbox car for 1/11?

  • Jim

    I would have paid well in excess of the cost of a Lords Day 1 ticket to listen to Geoffrey Boycott put a few pertinent questions to Mervyn King.

    I would particularly like to ask him why, if the current higher levels of inflation are a ‘spike’ and will fall back to within his target range in the near future, his own pension fund at the BoE is heavily invested in index linked products.

  • Gareth

    Was King doing that central banker thing of deliberately not cancelling irrelevant engagements, to give the impression of business as usual, no panic, steady as she goes and all that? If so, does he seriously think anyone will be fooled?

    It is not the engagement that was irrelevant but King. The UK *won’t* rock the boat so there is no need for King to be at his desk.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    Given the enormous damage done by central banks during the past 100 years, there is something to be said for making them all spend time watching sports.

    I would like to see Geoff Boycott give more commentary on such matters. I’d like to think the old fella has been reading up on his von Mises during the rain breaks at Lords.

    There is another quite famous Mervyn King, by the way. He’s a darts player from Ipswich, and his nickname is “Merv the Swerve”. Thought I’d share that.

  • Surely it is “Rome Burns because they fiddled”?

    Balls et al rely on tribal, knee-jerk reactions to the crisis. They will have their Ceaușescu Moment. King will, too, the way he is going.

  • Thinking about Geoff Boycott’s note, I wonder if it’s not quite right. One way tax distorts things is that you pay tax on profit but you don’t get anything back when you make a loss. So businesses have to be more successful to survive than would otherwise be the case.

    Is getting a bailout a bit like getting something back when you make a loss? Probably not but the taxes do muddy things.