My only surprise is that an article as justifiably angry as this has not been written sooner. Here are Peter Oborne and Frances Weaver, in the latest edition of the Spectator. They have also penned an item called Guilty Men, published by the Centre for Policy Studies.
There are several institutions that are targeted. And I almost wonder if the authors of the article have been channelling our own Paul Marks on the subject of the Financial Times. Paul has written about the Economist also with venom. An example of what annoyed Paul about the Economist, is linked to here.
Here are the paragraphs that stood out for me in the Spectator article:
“Meanwhile the pro-Europeans find themselves in the same situation as appeasers in 1940, or communists after the fall of the Berlin Wall. They are utterly busted. Let’s examine the case of the Financial Times, which claims to be Britain’s premier economic publication. About 25 years ago something went very wrong with the FT. It ceased to be the dry, rigorous journal of economic record that was so respected under its great postwar editor Sir Gordon Newton.”
“Turning its back on its readers, it was captured by a clique of left-wing journalists. An early sign that something was going wrong came when the FT came out against the Falklands invasion. Naturally it supported Britain’s entry to the Exchange Rate Mechanism in 1990. In 1992, under the slow-witted editorship of Richard Lambert (in a later incarnation, as director general of the Confederation of British Industry, Sir Richard was to become one of the most sycophantic apologists for Gordon Brown’s premiership), it endorsed Neil Kinnock as prime minister. It has been wrong on every single major economic judgment over the past quarter century.”
“The central historical error of the modern Financial Times concerns the euro. The FT flung itself headlong into the pro-euro camp, embracing the cause with an almost religious passion. Doubts were dismissed. Here is the paper’s supposedly sceptical and contrarian Lex column on 8 January 2001, on the subject of Greek entry to the eurozone. ‘With Greece now trading in euros,’ reflected Lex, ‘few will mourn the death of the drachma. Membership of the eurozone offers the prospect of long-term economic stability.’ The FT offered a similar warm welcome to Ireland.”
“The paper waged a vendetta against those who warned that the euro would not work. Its chief political columnist Philip Stephens consistently mocked the Eurosceptics. ‘Immaturity is the kind explanation,’ sneered Stephens as Tory leader William Hague came out against the single currency. Even as late as May 2008, when the fatal booms in Ireland and elsewhere were very obviously beginning to falter, the paper retained its faith: ‘European monetary union is a bumble bee that has taken flight,’ asserted the newspaper’s leader column. ‘However improbable the celestial design, it has succeeded in real life.’ For a paper with the FT’s pretensions to authority in financial matters, its coverage of the single currency can be regarded as nothing short of a disaster.”
An interesting side point is that the authors seem to take it as read that individual countries should, as matters of sovereignty, have their own currencies. What the authors don’t state – and I don’t know their views on this – are their opinions on fiat money per se. It is, after all, not much consolation to supporters of free markets to replace one dud monopoly money system with a network of national monopoly fiat moneys instead. What we need is actual competition between and even more crucially, within countries. Remember the old idea of a hard money “parallel currency” that the likes of Nigel Lawson, former UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, toyed with?
Transnational currencies such as the euro may indeed be disasters waiting to happen. But national currencies can often blow up too, or devalue slowly but insidiously. That point needs to be made loud and clear. The end of the euro may be cause for grim satisfaction in some corners but that is not the only kind of economic folly out there.