Monday, March 18, 2013

Growth in the UK?

I thought European "austerity," meaning mostly large increases in marginal tax rates on anyone daring  to work, save, invest, start a company or hire people, while spending stays north of 50% of GDP, was a pretty bad idea.

So I was glad to read the tiltle, when a friend sent me a link to the Telegraph, announcing Osborne to unleash raft of policies to kick-start growth. Great, I thought, after trying everything else, the British will finally try the one thing that will work.

The byline was only a bit disappointing
The Government is to reveal a series of major new measures to boost national and regional growth ahead of the Budget to show its “pro-business” strategy is working
Pro-business is usually a code word for protection and subsidy. But there are plenty of worse code words.

And then it all falls apart
The measures will include:

• Billions of pounds of central government funding directed at boosting regional growth and a backing for Michael Heseltine’s plans for new local spending powers;

• The planning go-ahead for the Hinkley Point C nuclear power station;

• Support for housebuilders and for first-time buyers trying to get mortgages;

• A push on major infrastructure projects, including the Merseyside Gateway and the “super-sewer” in London, and more government guarantees for such projects;

... The Bank of England could also be given a broader mandate to support growth.

...billions of pounds of central government funds should be made directly available to the regions and cities such as Birmingham...

Lord Heseltine’s report made far-reaching recommendations for stimulating economic growth. The Government will unveil plans enabling Local Enterprise Partnerships and businesses to bid regionally for money that is now allocated centrally.
It's not all bad. Allowing a nuclear power plant to operate is nice, and some plans to lower corporate taxes a bit. But the blossoming of free enterprise in the land of Adam Smith, alas, this is not. Keynes still rules.