Not sure about the government's Working Capital Scheme. I'd been calling for direct lending from government to businesses from the start, so at first it seemed like a pretty good idea. However, they're still going through the banks, just guaranteeing most of the loan, which sounds pretty dangerous for adverse selection: the banks may well only use it for debts they think are most likely to default. On the other hand, I think the bank staff are being irrationally reluctant to lend at the moment, so it might help on those lines.
Basically if bankers are rational actors it will fail badly; if they're irrational hysterics then it may work well. So it stands a chance at least.
I see the Lib Dems seem to be taking up my idea of a nationalized bank lending in competition with the private banks (though they want to use RBS instead of Northern Rock).
Sorry to keep coming back to this, but I have been thinking about it.
Now as we know, there's a trade-off between budget deficits and fiscal stimulus to end the recession. If you borrow and boost spending you can boost growth, but at the cost of paying back those debts in the future.
I'd been thinking that the average guy doesn't necessarily understand that, so Cameron and Osborne's emphasis on debt in the middle of recession-panic wasn't necessarily doing them much harm.
But in fact, I think people do understand that when the Tories talk about govermment debt, the basic logic is that "doing stuff" costs money, and reducing the debt means doing less stuff. So, the Brown/Mandelson counter-attacks on the "do-nothing Tories" are actually pretty powerful. Even if most people don't understand counter-cyclical fiscal policy, they're shrewd enough to realise the implication of talking up debt is that you don't think you can afford to do much.
So, it's a bit puzzling that they don't seem to have a come-back to the "do-nothing" tag, and they keep on with the debt talk.
However, there are some positive economic indicators around. Scares don't last forever, and are quickly forgotten when the next comes along. So it could be that Osborne is cleverly playing a long game. Maybe he reckons that the recession will be over by the next election, and then he'll be able to ride a new scare about high deficits instead.
Maybe he's deliberately not taking advantage of the recession, guessing that it will be over by the next election, and not wanting Brown to get the credit for fixing it.
Gaza spin in the UK
Some interesting stuff that's come up. There was some hype lately about a plot by Islamic militants to assassinate prominent British jews like Alan Sugar. But apparently source behind that is a freelance scaremonger who posted the actual threats himself.
Depressing stuff on all fronts. Germany is following the UK in censoring the web for fear of child porn. MPs expenses are to be excluded from the Freedom of Information act. UK personal data is now to be shared between government departments. Internet Archive partly or wholly blocked by UK censorship. Probationary citizenship for immigrants.
...modern liberal economists are wanderers who have been expelled from the garden of classical liberalism by the angel of history and reality with his flaming sword...The Sphere of Deviance MeFi
Whereas journalists equate ideology with the clash of programs and parties in the debate sphere, academics know that the consensus or background sphere is almost pure ideology: the American creed.
Some sf writers decided a while ago that true sf can only be based on the so-called hard sciences—astronomy, physics, chemistry, engineering, computer science, and so on. The word “hard” brings some gender luggage along with it. And sure enough, these guys find stories based on the “soft,” or social, sciences to be a debased and squashy form of the genre. They see it as chick lit for geeks. So, OK. If anybody wants to build a ghetto inside the ghetto and live there, fine with me. But I wish this sectarianism hadn’t infected Wikipedia. If they want to call my stuff social science fiction, that’s fair enough. But so much of what I write isn’t sf at all.
The latest /b/ drama seems to be Boxxy. [NSFW!]
All these links are getting a bit much to do. Maybe I should do shorter, more frequent diaries with some kind of easy-to-type code describing the more common types of content.
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