Friday, May 14, 2010

Quote of the Day

. Friday, May 14, 2010

Martin Wolf, eulogizing Gordon Brown:

All British political careers end in failure.

The rest of the op-ed is a discussion of how Brown was a product of his times, not a primary cause of them.

Added a few minutes after initial posting:

I go back and forth on this kind of thinking. On the one hand, it's basically a huge cop-out: "Everyone else believed in the Great Moderation, so why shouldn't he?" We should hope for more from our elected officials even if we don't expect to get it.

On the other hand, if everyone else believed in the Great Moderation and wanted to set policy based on it, then it would be awfully hard for Brown to maintain public support by legislating against it. Could you imagine him saying the following in 2004: "Yes, I know the business cycle has moderated over the past 25 years, but I think the vast majority of economists are wrong and doomsday is coming. Therefore, I am going to massively re-regulate Britain's financial sector, tossing off international competitiveness and ending London's run as a major financial center in the process."

Of course not. Even if he believed that, and he had little reason to, he would have been laughed out of office. It would have been like Noah's Ark: he might have been right in the long run, but nearly no one would have seen it that way in the short run, and it's unlikely that he would have survived politically in the interim.

So I guess I'd side with Wolf. Brown's mistakes were made because he trusted his expert advisors. That's too bad for him and for Britain, but what else could he have done?


Quote of the Day




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