Who will lift us out of the economic morass in which we are sinking?
Back in 2009, His Grace wrote on New Labour's strategy of Quantitative Easing. He ended that article 'To be continued' because he knew that such a strategy had inevitable consequences, one of which was the certainty that pumping £200bn into the economy would cause inflation to rise. And so it has. And, according to Sir Mervyn King, it will reach five per cent by the end of the year, which represents someting of a failure on the part of his Monetary Policy Committee which has a statutory obligation to control the rate of inflation. But Sir Mervyn explains: "This is the most serious financial crisis we’ve seen, at least since the Thirties, if not ever”
Over at RightMinds, Ruth Sunderland points out that Quantitative Easing has not troubled the British public over-much, probably because it is so arcane: 'But it raises troubling questions. Is the risk of higher inflation a price worth paying? Is it fair that this price is being paid by pensioners, along with savers who are already being punished with negative real returns on their accounts, and families who have seen their incomes fall in real terms?'
Well, it’s not rocket science, is it? Even a philosopher-theologian (or some of them) can grasp the basics of economics. If you print billions of pounds and pump it into the economy, you will get inflation. Even if you call the process something impressive like ‘Quantitative Easing’, the effects will still be the same. And an increase to five per cent (a full three points above the MPC target) is alarming.
But this is not Zimbabwe. And neither is it approaching anything like the scenario that existed in the 1970s when UK inflation peaked at 26.6 per cent. There is consensus that we are in for a grim few years of low growth, salary stagnation and rising inflation. And so people will see their standard of living fall, and those who live off interest on savings - principally the elderly - will see inflation eat into their incomes.
Gordon Brown blamed the unforeseen, unprecedented global ‘credit crunch’ for our sorry plight. The one who boasted year after year about ‘prudence’ and having ‘abolished boom and bust’ lived in the world inhabited by Alice. For as chancellor, he spent above his means, taxed the most vulnerable, and gave away the nation’s gold reserves (the price has soared over the past decade, losing us some £26bn). As prime minister, he made the supply of money unlimited to pay for his imprudence and economic dysentery. And so the world ditched paper money for gold, because it is finite and precious: it cannot be created ex nihilo and quantitatively eased out.
In the wake of that crisis, now exacerbated by Eurogeddon, the Chancellor George Osborne is applying his second-class BA(Hons) in Modern History to 'the most serious financial crisis we've ever seen' to expand the asset purchase scheme under which the Bank of England buys government bonds from commercial banks. The Chancellor said further steps would be taken to boost growth in his autumn statement next month.
It is heartnening, is it not, that those who run the most powerful offices of state often have zero qualifications to equip them for the role. Perhaps, as in academia, it ought to be compulsory for those who run these departments to hold the degree of doctor of philosophy in a related discipline. At least then they would be expert in their respective fields. Not infallible, by any means: but certainly better equipped than a 2:1 in Modern History to see the country through the most serious financial crisis ever.
“It is required of stewards, that a man be found faithful” (1Cor4:2).
The one who is guardian of the nation’s wealth is entrusted with that which belongs to us all. And he is constrained by a centuries-old unwritten code of ethics in the administration and distribution thereof. He will be tempted to succumb to the bribes of man and the pressures of the world. But the moment he does so, the public lose confidence as he is seen to give in to corrupt, ignorant and short-range considerations of what may seem right, as against what we know to be unsound or sense not to be quite right.
It is not for the philosopher-theologian to tell the doctor-surgeon the details of his business. And yet even a philosopher-theologian knows when the right hand must be cut off. And the wise doctor-surgeon will always listen to the intuition of his patient.
Politicians do not always do what is right and necessary because they do not know what is right and necessary because they are not qualified to know. They are devoid of conscience, deficient in intellect and lacking knowledge. Their objective is power and exercise of power and the retention of power.
So, as the sun darkens and the moon does not give its light; as the stars fall from the sky and the heavenly bodies are shaken; we await the man of sufficient stature to hold the allegiance of all people; the one who will lift us out of the economic morass in which we are sinking. Send us such a man and, be he god or the devil, qualified or not, we will receive him.