BBC BLOGS - Newsnight: Paul Mason
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Oil, inflation, sovereign debt and revolution

Paul Mason | 12:30 UK time, Sunday, 6 March 2011

I'll keep this brief. In the next six weeks we're going to get the collision of three strategic problems in economic policy and the outcome is going to shape not just the global recovery path but in particular the different continental stories.

First, we're in the middle of a mini oil shock. The price of crude oil has risen 15% in three weeks and this after a sustained period of energy inflation and food price inflation. This will now take its toll on growth. Barcap's economics team estimates that if oil rises to $125 and stays there, it's going to knock at least 0.5% off the growth of the developed world (see graph on left).

inflationscenarios

In the same scenario inflation rises by 2% more than it would have done already (graph on right). (Barclays Global Economics Weekly, 4 March 2011).

So we come to the second strategic problem. Monetary policy. Both the Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank have been making signals recently: the Fed that its policy will remain loose, the ECB that it is about to tighten, raising interest rates to choke off inflation.

A Eurozone interest rate rise will please the the kind of stereotypical mittel-Europeans you still meet who will shop only in Netto and who refuse to carry a credit card.

However it will tank the recoveries, such as they exist, in Europe's periphery.

And that brings us to the third problem: the sovereign debt crisis. As I've reported before, this is building to a climax that will begin at the end of this week, and needs to come to some denouement before the summer. Ireland's new coalition will head to Budapest to try and renegotiate the bailout terms; Portugal's refusenik government will come under pressure to seek a bailout and in Greece they will struggle to hold the line against default. It was under-reported but the general strike in Greece, late February, was pretty strong and wider social unrest is simmering.

The USA doesn't have much more it can do, policy wise, but its palliatives finally seem to be working - fiscal stimulus money and QE are having both domestic and global impact, with the first good news on the jobs front finally coming through.

It's the Eurozone that is in a bind: Barcap's economist refer to it as a "different planet". It is about to face an inflationary spike with a policy regime that is monofocused on inflation - so the ECB will hike rates just to prove it has the guts to do so. This will increase the pressure on peripheral governments to renegotiate the bailout terms, and banks of Germany, Britain and France may finally lose some money in the form of haircuts, repayment delays or even, if it gets chaotic, defaults.

They were already facing problems 2 and 3: problem one simply exacerbates problems 2 and 3.

What you want to avoid at all costs is "problem 4" - some kind of war, revolution or military coup in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East which takes the oil price to $200.

When I say "avoid" of course - these things are difficult to avoid in an age of multilateralist diplomacy, where the most powerful military power in the world has to tread on eggshells - so the global risks are rising.

Wars and revolutions tend to be quite symbiotic: what's going on in Libya gives a foretaste of what you might see if a full-blown democratic revolution broke out in Iran.

If oil goes anywhere above $150 all the policy mechanisms become frayed: rate rises have little effect on inflation but heavily impact growth - meanwhile inflation also impacts on growth and what you probably get is stagflation, as after 1973. So, fingers crossed.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 2.

    Paul,

    Stagflation is already the reality for most household budgets for some time now in the UK for sure.

    What you mean is WORSE stagflation which would then feed back into your 'problem 4' dynamic.

    It is the next phase and the incumbents and protectors of the current (but now out of date) global economic model are worried.

    Hence SAS guys (allegedly) get picked up by the rebels in Libya while trying to form some kind of covert diplomatic contact with them, meanwhile tha Saudi regime has given everyone in the public sector a 15% payrise.....and banned demonstrations.

    The crunch is coming, the crunch is needed to re-balance and replace the existing way of doing things with something which is fit for purpose.

    The frequency of occurance of mini crises is increasing / beginning to feed back into the process further accelerating the dynamic and putting it out of the reach of the incumbents control.

    I dont know whether to be relieved that change is finaly on the way or terrified at the process of how we get there.


    Nice post paul, keep up the good work.

  • Comment number 3.

    Being caught between a rock and a hard place during an earthquake is the prospect for the coalition. Problem 3 is already exacerbated by the Micawber moneynomics obsession with the deficit in the UK and as Barnsley showed the electorate do not think TINA on economic policy. If the oil price rockets a further sudden twist will be imparted to the lack of recovery or even a double dip for the UK economy and that is without the factors of sovereign debt defaults/re-structuring adding further negative complications. Your prediction of the coalition falling this year increasingly looks realistic although initially it may be a stay of execution through Clegg and others splitting the Lib Dem Parliamentary Party to continue their affair with government.

    Although it looks bad in Libya it is the potential of social disturbance in Saudi Arabia that is more likely to spook the oil dealers. Interesting, exciting but dangerous times.

  • Comment number 4.

    "...some kind of war, revolution or military coup in the Mediterranean, Africa and the Middle East which takes the oil price to $200."

    The oil price reached only $147 in 2008, when the world was awash with credit and liquidity. Why would it go to $200 now? Oil at under $120 is already doing more damage than oil at $147 did three years ago.

    The dollar is 'priced' in oil, but inversely to oil's price (cheaper oil = stronger dollar). $200 oil - suggesting a collapse in the dollar - would therefore be a total wreck. My guess, though, is that Global Inc. Corp. is facing long, slow, suffocation from oil at $80-$120 (with occasional brief excursions down to $50) while the markets and policymakers at last get to grips with meaning of peak net energy.

  • Comment number 5.

    While we are talking about ordinary people protesting when they have had enough dont forget 26th March central London when four and five figure salaried workers and JSA's can have their Tahrir Square moment.

  • Comment number 6.

    problem 4 is likely to happen now Cameron has blundered into Libya and given gaddafi a believeable narrative that the rebels are led by western pro israeli agents. Cameron has totally lost the plot and is jacking up on liberal [neocon] interventionism. The FO is living out a Flemming fantasy. Hague seems to have his baseball cap on again but this time he is making the country look ridiculous.

    one might have hoped the overt american slap down to cameron of 'there has been a lot of loose talk about no fly zones' might of injected a bit of reality in the cameron camp. But no. The FO is out of control. The SAS joke is just yet more glaring evidence of the ingrained incompetence of the uk govt that seems to be thinking with the groin?

    uk democracy institutionalise incompetence while the apartheid monarchy model gives us models of conduct from adultery, nazi uniform wearing to remaining loyal to convicted paedophiles to 'look up to'? this is what manifests when you have defective philosophy and do not take the good as the highest idea of the mind?

    as someone tweeted

    "Prince Andrew,Saif Gadaffi,Epstine,Kaituni; Peter Mandalson,Gadaffi,Tony Blair, Gadaffi Kagame Rwanda President,.... 'The Great and Good'"

  • Comment number 7.

    Krugman on Egypt and Wisconsin - the enemy is the same:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/21/opinion/21krugman.html

  • Comment number 8.

    Jericoa@ #2 agree, staflation here already, it will be confirmed in the offical figures soon.

    Paul, What you haven't taken into into account is that democracy could soon spread from MENA to Europe!

    for example, lets look at the UK - with austerity, job losdes inflation negative growth, and as #6 jauntycyclist says, people realising (belatedly I know) that a lot of the so called elite have being doing very nicely from doing business with the Gadaffi/Mubaraks/King Fahds of this world, house prices falling .....and a trigger event like banks needing to be bailed out again and BINGO parliament square becomes Tahrir square.

    In Tunisia it took around 5 weeks for a meeting of 80 people at the University to become a revolution. Who predicted it?

  • Comment number 9.

    YOU LEFT OUT THE ARCHERING OF ENNOBLEMENT (#6)

    And I would change 'democracy' to 'culture' as in: "UK CULTURE INSTITUTIONALISES INCOMPETENCE" and add a side order of corruption, war-mongering and hypocrisy.

    But that's just nit-picking - neatly put Jaunty.

    I wonder how Dave's war on the ENEMIES of ENTERPRISE is going . . .

  • Comment number 10.

    you said
    "The USA doesn't have much more it can do, policy wise, but its palliatives finally seem to be working - fiscal stimulus money and QE are having both domestic and global impact, with the first good news on the jobs front finally coming through. "

    The US job figures are far worse than is being portrayed, many many more are getting food stamps the US is a basket case, the oil price is as a result of the dollar dropping in value, no one wants to be left with a pile of worthless currency, better to own the commodity , and also what we are seeing is peak oil and peak demand, lies have been told about reserves or the lie has been perpetrated to allow the monied to pile up even more on commodities.




  • Comment number 11.

    i think one needs to look at the FO middle east desk that has been under occupation of a small clique for decades. its clearly failing and psychologically incapable of dealing with the idea of 'uncontrolled' arab democracy. Maybe because they see it as a threat to their 'interests'?

    the sheer blundering of the FO operation makes one think they want to poison the narrative of the rebel camp because a 'free independent libya with oil money' is not an attractive idea and that dictatorship is preferable?

    we need to get out Carlton House which is a monument to racst slavery models of empire and put the FO in a small glass house filled with oil fountains that would serve as a metaphor reminder that people in glass houses full of oil lakes and fireworks have to be safety conscious and not throw stones or matches.

  • Comment number 12.

    UNDERSTANDING 'OTHER' - 'BUT MAKE ALLOWANCE FOR THEIR DOUBTING TOO' (#11)

    Our governance is almost devoid of wisdom as in philosophy, psychology, circumspection and humility. What is more, our functionaries don't know what they don't know.

    We are so very immature. Perhaps God has sent Islaam here to save us? Would it be a good idea to get a group of top Imams to remodel our Parliament? Failing that, they might give some lectures on ethics.

  • Comment number 13.

    This aljazeera story is well worth watching. It's both inspiring and sobering. I can't summarise it and do it justice. Our Dave has a sort of walk-on (tragi-)comic cameo role. He should have stayed at home - the poor man was somewhat out of his depth; but it isn't about him!

    http://english.aljazeera.net/programmes/peopleandpower/2011/03/20113212393364943.html

  • Comment number 14.

    @11 You may be right jaunty, partly, but remember that the advice of experts is frequently ignored by politicians who find reality unappetising. The FO has a tradition of Arabists who are steeped in the history and the culture of the region. Blair (whom I do NOT admire) did, allegedly, raise their concerns with the US. However, The US ignored them, and their own experts too.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2009/dec/01/british-post-war-planning-iraq-war-us

    To me, with a physical science background, it as though a science minister were to make a decision which dismissed Relativity as unthinkable (it's pretty unpalatable), but advanced an alternative for which there's no evidence.

    Actually, that's rather like Osborne on the economy!

  • Comment number 15.

    #7

    Good to see Krugman wants people power.
    Maybe he'll eventually realise that this requires direct democractic control over the means of production.

  • Comment number 16.

    14

    The FO has a tradition of Arabists...

    not on the middle east desk. its been owned by the friends of israel, one with personal links to israeli military intelligence, for over a decade. its a procession. you'll never get a muslim on there with a house in the west bank but you do get people with homes in israel.

    as far i can i see its the 'price' of party funding. Political parties get a few mill and in exchange british foreign policy spends billions on vexatious wars against people who pose no threat to the uk. bargain.

  • Comment number 17.

    paul

    pentagon now reckons the financial crisis is due to terrorism. i would agree but i don't think we would be talking about the same group.

    http://www.madhedgefundtrader.com/march-3-2011-2.html

  • Comment number 18.

    12

    yes. ethics cannot be imposed it has to be chosen. someone has to choose to 'do the right thing' ie choose to grow up. which implies the cultivation of that 'power' of choice. If one has no 'power' of choice then one is a slave to something lower even if the chains are invisible.

    this requires a narrative where the choice is praised. instead we get the gangsta rap narrative. Children are brought up to believe that is the cool model. This is closely followed by other media driven infantile models of fame and celebrity. [the blair model]

    Would someone with the power of choice remain 'representing britain' after getting mixed up with pedos? only a slave to pleasure does not 'do the right thing'. So people who do not do the right thing in one sense should be pitied because they have no power of choice. They place their pleasures before real honour and are thus enslaved and often becomes puppets of others who provide them with their 'needs'. They never have the initiative.

    the power of choice is a habit that needs to be exercised everyday so that when big decisions come along the habit will tend to carry the person through to the right choice. But all this is derided by the 'clever and intelligent' who think anyone who does the right thing is stupid and a fool [like someone who hands in a wallet with £500 in it, hands the wrong change back to the shopkeeper, doesn't take advantage of the naivety of those much younger than themselves etc]

  • Comment number 19.

    Re revolution: when the latest issue of Private Eye dropped through the door, I was reminded of Barrie's recent quip about 'physically sick' Dave.

    http://www.private-eye.co.uk/covers.php?showme=1283

    This is one of those occasions when the Welsh nicknaming system would be quite appropriate. In Welsh it would be "Dai Gyfoglyd" - 'Dave the Nauseous'.

  • Comment number 20.

    #10 romepledian.

    Totally agree with that, I think you may have been (somewhat out of character) guilty of 'reporting what they wanted you to report' on that one Paul.

    tut tut :)

    Any impartial journalistic comment on USA 'official' unemployment rates should either ignore the 'official' figures or come with the descriptor of how the USA collates that particular data set, which is a truely grotesquely statistically manipulative method even by UK standards.



  • Comment number 21.

    On the question of governance, I would accept that there are politicians who are wise, well-intentioned: but the political process is about the pursuit of power, status and often wealth. It was ever thus. There is little to choose between say Elizabethan Court politics, focused around monarchical power and politics today focused around Prime Ministerial power. (The key, in either case, is patronage.)

    The fact is that the rules of any game dictate the skills needed in order to compete: and power politics favours arrogance over humility, ambition over altruism, cunning over wisdom etc etc.

    Democracy seeks to temper this by requiring the players to submit to the will of the crowd every 5 years or so - which introduces a further skill set of likability, self-confidence, televisual appeal etc

    To the extent that wisdom implies doubt there will never be wise governance under these rules. But then, you have to ask who is wise enough to design rules to ensure power follows wisdom? (And would they then be self-serving?)

  • Comment number 22.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 23.

    "EVEN BY UK STANDARDS" (#20)

    Nuff sed.

  • Comment number 24.

    THE ANSWER LIES IN MATURITY OF VOTERS (#21)

    You have neatly re-stated the problem tFoth. Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of the doomed nation. (And before anyone gets excited - behind every good man is a good woman OPERATING SUBTLY).

    I think you have CLEARLY shown the need fora CERTIFICATE OF VOTING COMPETENCE. Universal suffrage is probably Screwtape's finest accomplishment. A bunch of manipulable bozos believing they are enfanchised and can 'make a difference' in a 'free' 'democracy'.

    That devil is brilliant. It's enough to turn me to the Dark Side.

  • Comment number 25.

    21

    ..but the political process is about the pursuit of power, status and often wealth...

    yes that is the condition in the uk dominated by the Machiavelli view of politics. but that is not the only definition of politics. there are different definitions of politics from the classical world on up. there is even a book called anti Machiavelli.

    the uk still uses the medieval model. we do not have a national oath that protects the rights and laws of the people but the privileges of the monarchy apartheid.

    until the laws protecting the medieval model are changed nothing new can arise in its place.

  • Comment number 26.

    ARE WE THERE YET? (#25)

    Marching right behind you Jaunty (or bikes if you prefer).

    First we take (down) Westminster - then we take (on) Machiavelli.

  • Comment number 27.

    I haven't been to Netto for ages, or at least since a Morrison was built nearer and then they opened a Waitrose nearby in the other direction. Your remark has reminded me of some excellent German chocolate wafer biscuits. So as with General MacArthur: I will be back!

    The dodgy price point for oil is just under US$148 a barrel. I doubt if it will go there for the simple reason the world can't afford it. What is the point in speculating when you will crash the entire market structure? It will always be high enough but never too high.

    The problem for the over-borrowed both in Europe and elsewhere is that there is a distinct risk that you will now go bust. My argument has always been why get into that situation in the first place? Now that we are there we need to establish a working relationship with those to whom we owe money. No doubt they will also have an interest in keeping us afloat even at the price of a haircut as otherwise there will be no money for anyone and nowhere to enjoy it.

    We are at the brink so this is where brinkmanship becomes necessary. Do we have the political leadership to do this?

    Having followed burnallmoney's injunction in post 22 and read Monbiot's worthless rubbish I am doubly assured that we lack political leadership on both the Left and the Right. Windbags the lot of them, opinionated, self-promoting, over-paid, irrelevant bags of dysfunctional intestines congested with bovine and equine biological solids.

    They haven't a clue: none of them. They are just playing a game with all our livelihoods. What do they know?

  • Comment number 28.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 29.

    Feudalism: "patronage dispensed in return for fealty"

    The "payroll vote" in the House of Commons is designed to subvert a member's fealty from his constituents to the executive. My last MP was quite good until he became a PPS. The government's proposals to reduce the number of MPs without reducing the payroll vote will increase the power of the executive.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Payroll_vote

    We have minimal checks and balances, separation of powers etc. We need a new constitutional settlement, but where do we start?

    Looking back to the Chartists, I would say that their demand for Annual Parliaments had a great deal of merit, "since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now."

    When to hold the poll? I would say on 30th January, anniversary of the execution of Charles I: "pour encourager les aûtres".

  • Comment number 30.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 31.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 32.

    Did you catch the FT on the Chinese succession at the weekend, worth a look. Especially after the news this morning that the Chinese plan on spurring greater internal consumption and attempting to rebalance the economy.

    I'm sure the US current account will thank them for that in a time of economic weakness.

    All on Ireland I reckon. Brinkmanship over their interest rate, I wonder how close it will get, because if they do default or restructure without extensive warning it will ripple out just like Lehman IMO.

    It's going to be an interesting summer, especially when you consider how much of Unicredit Libya owns, and the hock to which the second I in PIIGS with respect to ex colony.

    You couldn't make this up :)

  • Comment number 33.

    30

    Monbiot is setting out a policy framework that will juggle the deckchairs but not alter a jot. He says he wants a stable society but we have a stagnant one already. His methods leave the apparat in power and they are as much part of the problem as the bankers. Indeed my view of the demonstration is that it is a calculated stunt in which one part of the apparat pretends to be different from another part.

    The entire point of National Insurance is that it should be equal in payment and provision. It should not go to the Treasury in the general tax take. A lot of our current problems could be eased if we had a real National Insurance Fund rather than a hole in the ground.

    Nobody earning less than the average wage should pay any income tax at all. Personal allowances are a complete disgrace.

    Tax avoidance is already being targeted by the current government so why have a demo to say it isn't? If the demo was about HMRC being too reliant on computer models then it might just be worth going on. What we do need is less taxation but more equably applied.

    My analysis is that Britain is an over-centralised over-governed state in which the legal-bureaucratic structures are designed to benefit the apparat and the bankers who are supposed to be funding the charade. Everything you need in order to live a simple life is far too expensive.

    No elected representative is allowed to change a thing. Yet Monbiot does not see this as an issue at all. Sorry but he suffers from the usual bourgeois Leftist view that ordinary people don't have the solutions so they have to be told what to do and how to behave. No, the struggle has to be to facilitate people to take control of their own lives.

    Sorry, I agree that change has to come but it has to come from the bottom, not from the top.

    I note he wants to beat the submarines into windmills but really we need ploughs and ploughmen, dairy herds and dairymen, so that there is an income to be made from the land once more. Even with food prices rising it still does not pay to farm in the UK. How stupid is that? But does it figure? Does the price of food figure anywhere in the political debate?

  • Comment number 34.

    #33 - stanilic

    "The entire point of National Insurance is that it should be equal in payment and provision".

    This is entirely the point I have been trying to argue on Hewitt's blog for months. While it has become fashionable in the UK to discuss ring fencing expenditure, they totally ignore ring fencing income. What is the point of having a National Insurance contribution if the income goes into the spending pot for defense, infrastructure and all the other things that are supposed to be funded from tax revenue?

    I have said before and say again that, when a newspaper publisher raids the pension find to boost his liquidity, he ends up belly up in the Atlantic. When a Chancellor does it, it is sound economic policy. In the improbable event that their is any truth in the argument, the depth of the underlying hypocrisy is staggering.

  • Comment number 35.

    @31

    Thanks for the link - a similar system would certainly "ruin party games" in Barrie's sense! .... BTW does your "moniker" imply 'spend' or 'incinerate'? :-)

    @33 Stan. Some of my thoughts echo yours. Farmers, are productive, essential and under remunerated. So who/what are the real "enemies of enterprise", and does Dave really know what he's talking about when he uses the word "enterprise"? A meaningful discussion requires commonly understood language!

  • Comment number 36.

    To the mods - something VERY strange has been happening here. My last post was rejected several times by the profanity filter. I couldn't work out why. In the end, after a wild guess, I replaced the word 'spoil' with 'ruin' and it passed.

    Weird or what?

  • Comment number 37.

    Perhaps all this emphasis on Libya is turning our attention away from the problems you wrote about above.

    Probably deliberate for it's not like anyone in Europe has a clue what to do about it all so what better than to divert attention hoping it will all go away.

    Never have I seen such a bunch of amateurish goings on from those who we would hope had a handle on the matters in hand.

    Number five which you have not got to yet is what we do when armadas of boat people start arriving on the shores of Europe.

    It's hard to stay optimistic when the consequences of EU policies could turn out to be so catastrophic for us all.

  • Comment number 38.

    35 Sasha

    Dear Dave knows nothing about enterprise as he has never had to do it. It is tough, lonely and difficult. As a ten year old under the Macmillan government I can recall my old dad struggling to get a small business off the ground. There was little help evident from the enterprising Tories. They were just the government and as we know the government is always there.

    The word `enterprise' is a buzz-word the Tories love to rally around. They talk about free enterprise but why does it always demand a high price from the enterprising: work twenty-four seven and get a heavy tax bill at the end of it because the taxman thinks all independent traders are on the dip and diddle. Stuff that for a game of soldiers!

    The only outcome of Dave's most recent speech is that a few more Tescos will be built where they should not be and a significant number of small shops will close down as a consequence.

    The trouble with the political class in this country is that at the Left end they have never got up in the dark in order to punch a clock at seven in the morning and at the Right end they have never had to make a payday. I have done both and the government, whoever nominally is in charge, has only served to make it all the more difficult.

    All I want to be able to do is control my own life without being forced to control others. Why should something so simple be made so difficult?

  • Comment number 39.

    #35 - Sasha Clarkson

    ". . . and does Dave really know what he's talking about when he uses the word "enterprise"?"

    It has not changed in years and can be summed up as follows: Welcome to the Jobcentre. We have a small problem. There are simply too many of you signing on and it looks bad on the books so we are going to give you a chance to join the enterprise culture. What this means is that you don't have to come in and sign on every two weeks and we still give you money. You get your self respect back, we have one less hopeless case to deal with and the stats look a whole lot better. Everyone is a winner, right? (Do yourself a favour and read the small print because it does not always work out as you planned and we would hate to have to say no to your next claim). Have a nice day. NEXT.

  • Comment number 40.

    don't worry everyone, we're saved!! Prince Andrew knows all about "enterprise"!

    he'll do wonders for British business and exporters!!

  • Comment number 41.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 42.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 43.

    DON'T KNOCK DAVE - JUST KNOCK HIS HEADS TOGETHER

    What do we think of the bloke who puts another bloke's photo on a dating site?

    That's two heads Dave: Fathead and Photohead. He is our PM!!!!! But why would he be any good at anything - except posing?

    WE HAVE GOT OURSELVES ANOTHER ONE.

  • Comment number 44.

    @43 Barrie What do we think of the bloke who puts another bloke's photo on a dating site? I missed this story - is there a link to it you could post?

    "WE HAVE GOT OURSELVES ANOTHER ONE"

    Whoever they are, we should always sing this great Jake Thackray song, "Beware Of The Bull!"

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=US&v=9PG6sITiNEs

    The full lyrics are available here on an "unsuitable url", but may be searched for on site:
    [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator][Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator]

  • Comment number 45.

    ''If oil goes anywhere above $150 all the policy mechanisms become frayed''

    What is the REAL price of oil anyway?


    With the world drowning in liquid dollars and dollar debt how does the market value of the dollar itself feed back into the 'price of oil'.

    Is it a race between the printing presses of the US and the production facilities of the middle east?


    Is that the death of the dollar? hoisted by its own oily petard?


    I am just free wheeling here, can anyone shed some light on the above dynamic and enlighten a hapless and confused amateur caught up in a bowl of economic spaghetti trying to figure out how this will unravel (not when, not if, those are a given) but HOW...that is the useful question to ask now.

  • Comment number 46.

    42 burnallmoney

    Might I suggest that you are projecting your own inadequate perspective of human nature onto others.

    In the old days I was an anarchist-communist, angry in the cities of Europe like so many today. However, I have moved on from there returning via William Godwin to my puritan cultural roots. My forefathers were tillers of marginal land in the Highlands, in western Ireland, the Weald and in the Chiltern forests. We are an austere people but in turn we gave the world the Covenanters, the Levellers, the Diggers and some would argue the Lollards but the latter is a bit obscure. We are also familiar with the cost of famine which is a powerful driver.

    Our support for others is implicit within our values. It is unexpressed. I was schooled in the parable of the Good Samaritan. So we are enjoined by our Rabbi that those who shout their religion in the street are the hypocrites. So we do our good deeds quietly without advertisment.

    I just wonder at those who need a government to tell them what to do and what to think when there is so much beauty in the world to enjoy and bounty to share. There is no time or need for middlemen in our arrangements with nature and the good earth. Perhaps you folk just enjoy the sound of the whip in the air above your heads. Each to their own!

  • Comment number 47.

    Inflation - primarily caused by the American QE2, which while helping Wall Street to become even richer, erroded the value of the dollar so that poorer countries must pay more for essential commodities. QE2 in an indirect sense has contributed to the anger and frustration that has caused the revolts across Northern Africa and the Muddle East.
    Watch out. I believe a QE3 is coming.
    Sovereign debt - heavily impacted by trading in nefarious financial products such as derivative bundles and Credit Default Swaps. More and more municipalities (almost all in Italy) and other "victims" are taking these cases to Court because it doesn't seem legal that your can bundle AAA derivatives with DDD derivatives and sell the entire package as AAA. Dishonest comes to mind; fraud comes to mind.
    What's more, more than a few of these cases are being won. So, as I have said before, these debts should be defaulted at least long enough to audit the contents of the debt and its legality.
    Oil - is the real reason for wanting Gaddafi out - that sweet, pure Libyan crude! Gaddafi has created a socialist state with many fringe benefits for the population, like free medical and dental. In addition, Libyans enjoy a higher salary than most other African countries. Gaddafi may be a "mad dog", but it wouldn't surprise me that his people did "love" him, and that these rebels are paid interventionists e.g. contract fighters out of the United States, Israel and maybe even the UK.

  • Comment number 48.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 49.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 50.

  • Comment number 51.

    48

    We have met before, haven't we?

    As I said, you are projecting your own inadequate perspective of human nature onto others.

    But then I have said that to you many times before, haven't I.

    Whoever said deja vu is not what it used to be has got it just about summed up.

  • Comment number 52.

    @48

    I've never met an anarchist who was right wing, and I've met a few. Maybe in the US but not here. Ever read about the Spanish Civil War?

  • Comment number 53.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 54.

    @48 I think you've misinterpreted what you've read, and haven't read enough. Anarchism in itself is not a coherent political philosphy, it's an approach to political philosophy which, amongst other things, distrusts leaders and centralised organisation.

    My introduction to Anarchism was the book by George Woodcock which I read when I was 16 or so, followed by Orwell's Homage to Catalonia. Some time later, I was in Barcelona with my parents about a year after the death of Franco, and CNT (anarchist trades union) graffiti was everywhere.

    Most avowed anarchism is left. For example, I don't think anyone would or could describe Kropotkin as right wing. I came very close to anarcho-communism in the '70s. The last meeting I went to was in a smoke filled basement near Chalk Farm, a small community centre for Spanish Civil War exiles. It was actually a couple of different groups having a meeting about cooperating and maybe joining together. This was one of them:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarity_%28UK%29

    The anarchists I knew were mostly working class; decent, humour-filled, angry and intelligent. In the end, for what I considered at the time to be practical reasons, I reluctantly chose a different path.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Woodcock

  • Comment number 55.

    @53

    You clearly know little about anarchism. It doesn't mean "without rule", just "without rulers". Most anarchists I've known have been pretty well organised. In some countries they even run major commercial organisations. Comparing them to neo-liberal deregulators is puerile.

    Both the communists and CNT/POUM were fighting the fascists, who are right-wing if you hadn't noticed. The subsequent falling out says more about Stalin than anarchism.

  • Comment number 56.

    @54 Oh dear - I've wasted my time - the mask is slipping - the undead is returning to life!

  • Comment number 57.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 58.

    @55 Don't waste your time/ire George. :-) This looks like a previously banned (many times) user returning from cyber-limbo. If this were facebook, many of us would be clicking "block" by now.

  • Comment number 59.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 60.

    I grow garlic.

    Should have a good show this year given the bad winter.

  • Comment number 61.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 62.

    JJ

    I see you have not acquired any manners since you have been away.

  • Comment number 63.

    To spin: To sit and spin and spinning out of control spinsters.

    How much is a can of RAID.

  • Comment number 64.

    Still wittering on ?

    You lost, we won,

    http://baselinescenario.com/2011/03/10/battle-of-the-banking-policy-heavyweights/

    get used to it and get with the program wage slaves.

  • Comment number 65.

  • Comment number 66.

    My friend Aceman told me Libya has WMDs, will this help NATO sanction an invasion? I can post this top secret intel on twitter if that gives it any validity for the BBC.

  • Comment number 67.

    #66

    For all we know the unrest may have been 'facilitated' by the west from within. The rebels seem surprisingly organised to me to be in a position to post a 'rival rebel council' within a couple of weeks of a 'spontaneous' revolution which is now being 'recognised' as the Libyan Authority by foreign governments.

    I was slightly heartened that we do seem to be using less oil now in the 'developed' world and are being dragged towards a more sustainable way of doing things. That trend will continue and gather pace as the technology feeds through and becomes increasingly economic. As to whether it will counter-balance new demand from emerging nations remains to be seen, but it does at least give hope of a bumpy but not catastrophic tranformation of the current global economic model to a 'throughput' model.

    On a less welcome note, as someone who is involved in seismic design of structures and infrastructure to resist earthquakes I am sorry to say that the news reports coming through from Japan at the moment will likely be the tip of the iceberg considering the reported magnitude.

    There is potentially a higher chance of major earthquakes elsewhere in the world in the next week or two with a lunar gravitational high (curently building - peaks next week I think) corresponding with stress changes in the ground caused by an earthquake of this size.

    Academia is only just waking up to the rather obvious potential relationship between earthquakes and the effect of cyclical 'highs' of gravitational forces on the semi liquid mantle. It will not be a precise colleration of course but is likely to be contributing factor which could be mapped out if sufficient data was available (a few hundred years probably)to establish a trend type relationship.





  • Comment number 68.

    @67 You're right about the lunar gravitational high Jericoa. Living by the sea, I keep a close eye on the moon and the tides. Next week (March 19th) will be the closest perigee for a number of years, coinciding with the full moon, and almost with the equinox. So there will be high high spring tides - close to maximum possible astronomical tidal variations around the 21st March. (It will be about 30 ft locally, but I would expect more than 50 ft at Aust, by the old Severn Bridge.)

    Fortunately we do not have the Pacific seismic activity, but low pressure and southerly gales could certainly cause problems for some local communities.

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/earthview/pacalc.html

    http://easytide.ukho.gov.uk/EASYTIDE/EasyTide/SelectPort.aspx

  • Comment number 69.

    "I can post this top secret intel on twitter if that gives it any validity for the BBC."

    CMoore - very amusing :-)

    The BBC always say when they are getting information from twitter as though this absolves them of the problem that there is no way of testing the validity of the "facts".

    Why don't we get to know the medium when it's another source? eg I just asked a kid and he thinks Gadaffi is gonna win pop idol. I'll tell you why - because it's completely unacceptable. So why do it with twitter? Some guy on the news right as I type this is on about twitter and the Japanese earthquake. Sounds like your dad saying "that's wicked" when he says tweets.

    ps just stopped listening halfway through to that LSE lecture from the outgoing BBC big cheese. What a boring, defensive old fart. Normally the LSE lectures are great but this guy mirrors the BBC's turgid paper pushing middle-management. Amazing how I get my intellectual programmes from another source and the only time I stop listening is when someone from the BBC pollutes it with twaddle.

  • Comment number 70.

    #68

    Thanks for the links Sasha, I was on the verge of undertaking some amateurish research using them, but alas there is some debate on this out there already.

    Personally I find the 'pro moon' effect lobby more convincing than the arguments to the contrary but it looks like no thorough body of work has been done on it as yet.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/05/0523_050523_moonquake.html

    Such subjects do pique my interest, the moon has a lot to answer for I reckon, more than most would want to admit for fear of being acussed of being irrational, which is quite a paradox if the source of some of the said irrationality could be traced, quite logically, to the moon itself.

    Hilarious.

    Well I find it funny anyway.


  • Comment number 71.

    @70 Jericoa

    Interesting link! Given that an earthquake "about to happen" is a metastable equilibrium, any measurable force change might trigger it. But today's earthquake can't have had anything to do with next week's "supermoon", as the sun's and moon's gravitational pulls are currently working against each other, as we head to Monday's neap tide. I feel that this site gives a fair assessment:

    http://www.fastcompany.com/1737710/the-supermoon-and-japans-89-magnitude-earthquake

    So far as human behaviour is concerned, Here's a bit more grist to the mill, and this isn't the only case:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2007/jun/05/ukcrime

    However, this Wikipedia article argues against:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lunar_effect

    When I was teaching, I reckoned that the two days prior to the full moon led to an increase in antisocial pupil behaviour, and long queues of miscreants waiting outside the Head's office. I pointed this out to him a couple of months running. My aim was to be in a position to initiate psychological warfare, and ruin his day just by saying "full moon tomorrow boss!" even if it wasn't. I never carried out my plan, because although I enjoy evil thoughts, I don't enjoy evil deeds! :-D

  • Comment number 72.

    #71

    Yes indeed, metastable systems require lots of juicy data to eek out even a marginally statistically significant correlation.

    Simply not enough data out there to allow any debate to be settled by use of scientific method. Hence the debate deteriorates into points of view and selected data on both sides. All the 'easy kills'' have been had already it would seem in terms of us understanding our world, the rest will need lots of patience and data. If we make it that far.

    I think a similar principle will apply for the metastable human condition as well.

    So, I choose to take it as a matter of faith :) that the moon does indeed influence in a way as yet undertermined in the affairs of man and the hair trigger release of major earthquakes. Both conditions being only slightly beyond the grasp of scientific method, obscured in the murkey domain of the arbitory 5% percentile statistical significance or not amidst all that pesky background noise.

    There is the rub eh Sasha!!

  • Comment number 73.

    @72 Between a closed mind and credulity is a delicate path to tread! When the data is incomplete, it often doesn't harm to apply the precautionary principle. For example, there are certain licensed premises I certainly avoid if it's a combination of full moon and Wales playing rugby! ;-)

  • Comment number 74.

    And you haven't even talked about the recent solar flares and Jevon's sunspot cycle yet.
    Having visited Wales this weekend, I can assure you there is a parallel universe at work there, running much slower than the one I'm used to.
    There's lovely.

  • Comment number 75.

    #73

    Yes indeed, the precautionary principle, providing it is not abused.

    There is an important geopolitcal / economic / stability point in this actually.

    I am a civil engineering professional whom specialises in ground risk and environmental risk to structures, particularly high risk structures including acting as an expert witness in this regard.


    We are, sometimes, semi-jokingly and with negative conotations refered to in the broader profession as the 'witch doctors' of enginering.

    Why?

    The reason why is that we almost never have the luxury of complete QA stamped and approved information to go on.

    We have to make judgement calls based on limited information and an holistic appreciation of project requirements and interactions. These judgement calls involve complex balancing of known unknowns, their potential consequences and liklyhood of occurance which is unique for every project.

    Adressing the known unknowns often with big price tags associated with them and even bigger risks if they are not carried out. We are not popular with project managers and project financiers because they feel we can not 'properly' substantiate what we are asking for because such a mixture of interactive variables will not succumb to an absolutist purely mathematical approach, our recommendations are put forward as a matter of professional opinion (albeit it explained) not a set of calculations in accordance with a British Standard or Euro design code.

    We often tell them they should spend huge ammounts of money to protect against risks we can not categorically prove, but which we believe as responsible professionals should non the less be incorporated in the design.

    Sadly some professionals abuse this 'grey area' as a way to justify more consultancy fee for themselves by over exagerating some risks which will require their input. The pursuit of £££ over value.

    The flip side is of course that important recomendations get ignored by those holding the purse strings because it is 'unsubstantiated' in the view of another professional.

    A potential example of this dynamic at work is the situation now unfolding in the nuclear power plants in Japan.


    I am gobsmacked at the possibility of this happening, especially in Japan, of all places, which (along with California) is where most of the internationally recognised seismic design expertise and research resides.


    Nobody can tell me that what is unfolding is part of, what we would call, a 'safe shutdown' design scenario.

    A safe shutdown design scenario is an extreme event where you accept massive damage to structure and that the asset will not be recoverable afterwards (will be de-commisioned and demolished) but that the contents will be safe in the interim. This is what they seem to be suggesting is the case from the noises coming out of authorities in Japan.

    Very unlikely I would say (in my opinion).

    If that was the case they would not be bothering to struggle to maintain the cooling systems. It should be assumed that mechanical systems will fail under an SSE event / design scenario.

    Culturally such mistakes are hard to admit in Japan, which is possibly compounding and hampering the crisis management of the situation.

    Hence we come full circle again to the eternal debate on here.

    The money changers have taken over the temple again.

    But this time given our influence the temple is the planet itself and their activities can be seen expressed as poorly designed nuclear power stations in one of the most unstable regions of the planet or millions of recalled Toyotas or farmers of cash crops going hungry because a hedge fund manager bought up the worlds supply only to dump it a few months later.


    The money changers of old have dressed themselves up in the cloak of respectability of absolutism created by the huge sucess and advancement 'the enlightenment' (application of reason and scientific method) has brought.

    But there is much that lies beyond the grasp of such approaches and, indeed, much which can be abused by the mis-application of absolutist principles (selective economic modelling within banks being one obvious aspect).

    Integrity.

    Without integrity we will descend into chaos, but nobody can write an equation for integrity and there is no short term money to be made from having any and the few that keep some as a matter of mystical (unscientific) principle are increasingly ridiculed via the taxation system.

    Where will this all end?




  • Comment number 76.

    #75 addendum

    Just read that the rods are exposed at reactor 2, which basically validates my earlier post.

    I dont know the details of this plant but I would expect it to have a monolithic fully seismically isolated foundation system for such a high risk structure, that should include all the cooling apparatus if its functioning is a prerequisite for a safe shut down. Otherwise the reactor should be designed to be stable without a functional cooling system under an SSE event.

    It is utterly inexcusable for this to have occured, just as it is utterly inexcusable to maintain the current global economic system which is metaphorically undergoing a very similar process at the moment.

    The current economic system has un-useful destruction built in as part of its cycle to continue.

    Whether this is throwing away the ridiculously tiny plastic yoghurt pots my probiotic comes in (I always drink 2 of them at once as 1 seems pointless) or providing expert witness on engineering projects when things go horribly wrong.

    Nobody want to think about making the yoghurt pots bigger, because they can make more money keeping them tiny, someone else can deal with them in the environment later.

    Similarly nobody wants to listen to a ground risk specialist at the design stage, because he could cost the project a lot of time and money on something that will probably never happen, and if it did it would be years in the future by which time we already made our £££.

    It is a sad fact that it is much more lucrative and people are much happier to see me when I am engaged as an expert witness after the event than as a designer to prevent the event.

    The moneychangers (and me) make much more ££ when things go horribly wrong. If you tell them they have to spend money to prevent things going wrong but which can not be mathematically presented and are therefore outside the scope of regulatory legal standards, nobody wants to know.

    I get a lot of stick on here periodically for entertaining that which could be considered 'non substantiated' to the extent that some have stated they do not believe I am an engineer at all (not you Sasha).

    I would say that is exactly the kind of resitence I come across when I make my recommendations for foundation design to high risk structures like nuclear power stations. But look what happens if the shamens, be them engineering ones or financial ones or social ones are not listened to.


    Why do I have to understand all this *****.




  • Comment number 77.

    #75 Jericoa

    "Where will this all end?"

    None of us know the future, but the simple answer, I would say, is socialism or barbarism.

    The latest crisis is offically resolved & recover supposedly beckons.
    But most, including the very informed contributors to this blog, doubt this to be the case.
    Capitalism's infalibility is now questioned.
    Not only do people want to understand why we have crises, some are now more open-minded to the argument that capitalism is breaking-down.

    Rosa Luxemburg is famous for here breakdown theory, but there are other varations.
    If we look at human history scientifically we can see that different modes of production have existed.
    Why should capitalism (the private ownership of the means of production by a few whilst the rest sell their labour) be the final mode?

    Indeed, if we look at volume III of Marx & his tendential fall in the rate of profit we see the end of capitalism.
    Mathematically it can be argued, & models can be produced, whereby the increases in the organic composition of capital are at least offset by increases in the rate of exploitation & profit & so capitalism continues.

    But we only have to look at the higher energy prices & their tendency to put upward pressure on the organic composition of capital (oil is constant capital) & downward pressure of the rate of exploitation (if the cake is getting smaller there's still a limit to the amount workers need to reproduce).
    Both squeeze profits.
    The result is conflicting class interests - as we've seen in North Africa, the Middle East, Wisconsin, etc.

  • Comment number 78.

    #77

    I agree in general but it has to be a much more convincing, coherent, well engineered and exciting version of socialism than was managed to be produced the first time around.

    Meanwhile, and further to my earlier posts, the metaphor for the global economy is still being played out at Fucushima (the jokes will come soon).

    It is not expressly said by anyone but it appears to me that the attempts to contain the situation have been reduced to something akin to 'hosing the pressure vessels down with sea water'. With much of the internal cooling systems inoperable / mangled I cant se how they can be maintaining any measure of steady internal circulation.

    Any cooling system they have rigged up amongst the wreckage will be an uncontained system, i.e. they pour water in / over it and is takes the heat out and gets discharged out to sea. I have noted that there have been no official radiation reading announced for the sea water in the viscinity of the plant only land and air based readings have been given.

    As usual it is not what they say it is what they do not say but could say that is the most important.

    The intervention of mother nature, the failure (poor design), frantic superficial attempts to contain in parralel with a campaign of delicatly worded selected information and the ultimately (lets hope not) disastrous results are indeed a powerful metaphor for the unfolding broader economic and geopolitical dynamic.

    meanwhile back at the ranch all the G8.. 20 ..whatever 'leaders' have their heads firmly stuck up their backsides when it is within their power and mans grasp of technology to turn this around.

  • Comment number 79.

    @77 'Socialism or Barbarism' is a favourite slogan of yours - or rather a religious mantra. Then indeed you recommend us to indulge in some Marxist bible study.

    There are so many problems - where do I start?

    1) Contrary to your first assertion, there is NO simple answer. Even if there were an agreed definition of socialism, which there isn't, or an agreed and obvious programme to make things better, which there isn't, a transitional programme would meet huge resistance - including amongst those you would describe as "the workers".

    2) The slogan 'Socialism or Barbarism' implies that they are mutually exclusive and exhaustive. In fact, as the the Soviet forced collectivisations and the Chinese cultural revolutiob show, it is possible to have both. History also shows that it is possible to have neither.

    You must stop confusing slogans with thought or analysis in the real world. Get out more and talk to real people. Take another regular slogan of yours "sieze the means of production". Apply this to five friends of mine and explain what it would mean for them. The first works in a local oil refinery in Pembroke. It was in danger of being closed down, but it's just been sold. The oil comes from the middle-east. Remember, no oil, no refinery! The second is a carer working in an old peoples home. The third is a tenant farmer, doing mainly dairy, but some beef and early potatoes. He makes about 30k net. The fourth works on a tourist boat in the summer, but also in local pubs and restaurants. He is also a member of the local lifeboat crew. The fifth is head of science in a local comprehensive school. All of them use products made in China, with energy from Chinese coal.

    What would "sieze the means of production" mean to them? Why should they listen to you? Or should YOU be listening to them? Bear in mind that some of them are at least as well educated and informed as you are, and have done their time canvassing and leafleting.

    I don't mean to be unkind, but it's time you started proposing practical first steps to the better world you hope to achieve. OR - try taking a soapbox to speaker's corner in Hyde Park. That's a crucible where you survive on your merits! But, either way, what are YOU doing to make a difference?

    PS How are you going to get your message to China?

  • Comment number 80.

    "What would "sieze the means of production" mean"
    "Practical first steps to the better world"

    Convert all public companies with more than 30 employees to worker-owned co-operatives, retaining all current management as employees and hand shareholders longterm bonds.

  • Comment number 81.

    Oil

    BP and the other Oil Giants benefit from a higher dollar price of a barrel of Oil, considering that some oil companies have had to pay out big bucks for certain safety incursions and given the reluctance of some governments to allow control of the taps to be handed over to the corporates then instability and insurrection may be the second best option.
    What costs are deemed acceptable for BP to gain control of the Libyan oilfields ?
    Who's pulling whose strings here ?

  • Comment number 82.

    Inflation

    CPI and RPI have both risen, this means that on the whole (of the indexed items) prices have risen, this is not inflation. (only a rise in certain items)

    Merv knows that the money supply is crashing, nobody is borrowing (except the desperate and nobody expects them to repay the full amount, only the upfront fees in order to maintain liquidity in a last chance 'originate and distribute' saloon.

    It doesn't matter how many of the 'fat and lazy' middle class we throw over the side, the balloon is deflating.

  • Comment number 83.

    Sovereign Debt

    Which bit of 'we are going to print our way out of trouble' didn't the lenders quite get ?

    Which bit of 'we want to borrow devalued currency to solve our little local difficulty' did the borrowers not quite get ?

    Which bit of 'Oops, we broke the money' is ingraspable ?


  • Comment number 84.

    Revolution

    It's reaching critical mass, sufficient numbers of people are wanting a better life for others, the end result is inevitable (like the crises of capitalism)

    Vested interests will resist (also inevitable) but even they know (although not publicly admit) that their interests ultimately align with every body elses.

    Money is worthless, only life has value.




  • Comment number 85.

    The crunch needs to happen in this country now!!

    I am fed up with the political elite pushing the poorest in our society further and further down.

    Petrol is going through the roof , vat has made everything more expensive, multi national companies that support the Government are sitting on there profits .

    Get with it people and complain , kick out the rich public school boys before its too late.

    This government thinks we are well off , think again. I have no tv , no carpets , no cooker , just about can afford to eat .

    Im paid slightly above minimum wage and still can only just pay my bills , if this Government stays in power there will be more of us unemployed and no one will be able to buy anything unless your a multi millionaire banker.

  • Comment number 86.

    #85 Rob

    The politicians, the bankers, basically those with money have no understanding of the plight of the average person.

    We are all told 'what the markets are doing' every day; as if we should care.
    Britain & the world have just become more more like America - sink or swim, winners & losers, survival of the fittest.
    This is not civilisation.
    Humanity is capable of so much more if only we were freed from the curse of profit that comes from the private ownership of the means of production.

    Resistance & rebellion is 2011.
    People are fighting back against the rich.
    In Britain on the 26th March these's a march in London against the cuts.
    This is a beginning.

  • Comment number 87.

    85 rob

    Look on the bright side, you have a computer and you can complain.

    You can always join in the knee-jerk pointless ritual of marching through London to sustain the well rewarded careers of the professional Leftists who will of course address you from some podium or other thus ensuring that you remain a spectator in what should be your struggle.

    Alternatively you can look at your life and try to solve the problem from the bottom up. The only way the fantasy economy which we have in this country will get sorted is through ordinary people living their everyday lives by organising themselves.

    Governments and hierarchies are not essential but whether they dress to the Left or the Right they always ensure they are well-rewarded from out of your labours.

  • Comment number 88.

    #87 stanilic

    "Governments and hierarchies are not essential but whether they dress to the Left or the Right they always ensure they are well-rewarded from out of your labours."

    I have a lot of sympathy with this comment.
    The long shadow of Bolshevism is still with us.
    But as Egypt has shown there's a lot of ordinary people that are quite capable of organising themselves.
    This may or may not mean the demo of the 26th March is a springboard to something more, but at least it's an opportunity for people to come together.

  • Comment number 89.

    88 duvinrouge

    The sympathy is appreciated.

    A tea party and village fetes are also good opportunities for people to come together. I seem to recall in 2003 over a million people came together over a certain war. I recall my mother's anguish at that war: probably the last political emotion she ever had before her memory crumbled. I think it must have been the last time she was in Hyde Park where her maternal grandfather was once a gardener. What did it achieve?

    I long ago transferred my views from the streets to the workplace where one can actually do something. I am not talking about simply agitating over money and conditions but ensuring that work is better organised by the people who do it.

    The issue to me is about facilitating people into managing their own environment, taking control of their lives and making a difference through the knowledge and skills thus acquired. Empowerment is a much abused word but a self-conscious workforce is both economically, socially and politically powerful.

    I am very much afraid that over the last thiry years the Left has totally lost the plot. In many ways they share liability for the fanatasy economy we have in this country and in Europe. The standard of equality has been abandoned, the appreciation that work provides a reality for people has been forgotten, the understanding that welfare is not enough, and the importance of community solidarity all have been kicked into touch.

    Now when the money has run out all of sudden people rekindle their consciences. How convenient, how deliberate, how opportunist.

    I ended up last night shouting at the telly again over the conversation on Newsnight. Just what did people expect from all the BS & HS we have been served up with these last so many years? Does one laugh or cry?

    People across the country need work, solidarity and support. This is where the struggle has to be.

  • Comment number 90.

    #88 DV

    The reason the Egypt protests worked was because they conveyed a non-partisan, non-religous struggle against a Kleptocratic regime. That was their sole focus.

    I hope that the march on the 26th will not become obscured by Left v Right rhetoric; Public Sector v Private. If it does then middle England will scoff at it.

    The struggle is between a banking oligarchy that is undertaking state sponsored Kleptocracy versus real Workers in this country whose living standards are being eroded.

    I call it Crime and Collective Punishment:

    http://golemxiv-credo.blogspot.com/2011/03/guest-post-by-hawkeye-crime-and.html

  • Comment number 91.

    Shock news: "Boomers ate my future"

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-12758367

    "Its report said children born now would pay £70,000 more in taxes over their lifetime than they got back in benefits and services from the government.

    Those aged 65 have received £220,000 more from the state than they paid in."

    In other news:

    Media, run by people over 50, has scant and delayed coverage of the obvious. Boomers didn't even bother to think about the sustainability of any of this because they are "worth it".

    Unemployment up again. Lots of them youngsters...time for some more "we didn't have iPads in your day"?

  • Comment number 92.

    @Duvinrouge, "Humanity is capable of so much more if only we were freed from the curse of profit that comes from the private ownership of the means of production."

    Why do you associate profit only with private ownership of capital? How do you think workers' co-operatives can function, i.e. invest in capital goods, without profit. That profit is derived solely from their own labour and they are entitled to a share in what they have earned?

  • Comment number 93.

    91 Ben

    This is divide and rule Daily Mail style.

    I qualify as a baby-boomer but many of the atrributes allocated to me by that appellation just don't apply.

    Scapegoats are useful for a ruling class looking to secure its future.

    I particularly like the one called `we are all getting older' so pensions must be cut back and retirment delayed. Nonsense, my great-grandfather died in 1956 aged 89, his son my grandfather died in 1966 aged 76, his son my father died in 1992 aged 75. I am 63 next birthday, my brother is 65 and on his fifth bout of cancer.

    We are having our legged pulled and pulled big-time!

    What we need is a proper economy that generates value by which we can all get by with some self-respect and contentment.

  • Comment number 94.

    #92 Carol Wilcox

    "Why do you associate profit only with private ownership of capital? How do you think workers' co-operatives can function, i.e. invest in capital goods, without profit. That profit is derived solely from their own labour and they are entitled to a share in what they have earned?"

    The co-ops live in the market economy, they have to compete with one another & private enterprises.
    But yes, they do keep their surplus value.

    With the end of private ownership the means of production can be controlled by all the people.
    This requires direct democracy - from the local parish to the world government.
    Not voting for representaives but sending delegates, perhaps chosen by lot.

  • Comment number 95.

    #90 Hawkeye_Pierce

    I read you article & I like the reply to one of the comments about direct democracy.

    I also found this article:
    http://golemxiv-credo.blogspot.com/2010/12/japan-is-going-to-blow.html

  • Comment number 96.

    #89 stanilic

    The trouble with the 'left' is many of its organisations are platforms for middle class egos.

    They have the power 'gene' & want to lead someone.
    But because many are so divorced from the everyday grind, the workers don't follow & they spend much of their time fighting for minorities.
    Don't get me wrong I'm all for defending minorities that are scapegoated, e.g. immigrants, but the 'left' needs to have more working class people who can relate to the lives of ordinary people & speak their language.

    Declaring London a nuclear free zone as 'red' Ken did just played into the 'looney left' charge of the The Sun.

    But to distant themselves from the 'looney left' of the 80's the Labour Party has embraced capitalism & middle England.
    Why? because they are middle class with the 'power' gene.

    I know Egypt in now under a military dictatorship (controlled by the USA) but at least the people power gives me optimistism.
    Ordinary people can organise themselves.

  • Comment number 97.

    96 duvinrouge

    `Ordinary people can organise themselves.'

    We are in agreement on that point - and they will.

    An interesting analysis of the problems of the Left.

  • Comment number 98.

    91 Hi Stanilic

    "particularly like the one called `we are all getting older' "

    On average we are. Citing anecdotal evidence cuts zero ice. I'm surprised you even went down this route. We are living longer and we have to work longer. Not increasing the retirement age is indefensible. It really disgusts me that your generation didn't move this upward far earlier as it was 100% obvious that this mess wasn't sustainable. You guys all fancied a 30 year holiday and when you add in the fact that we now have a big hole in our economy because it was easier to "lend" each other 100K than to learn skills that generate wealth then yes we are in a mess.

    There is a real division out there. Young people have nothing and older people have had it much better, as those figures show. If they succeeded they made a mint. If they failed the next generation worked to provide a safety net they will not get. How is young people paying and old people spending all our future not a divide? "Respect and contentment". This is typical of the liberalism that has infected our country. Never mind the numbers - hey, aren't we all just people? Or some other such trash. Never mind the liberalism - I'd like my piece of the cake please boomers, and I'd like it yesterday, thanks.

    In the SE now on a mortgage of 250K a FTB would get 5.4% for less than 25% deposit (clearly they agree with me housing is over-valued given the 25% bar). This would mean a mortgage of 1.5K per month. This is way too much. Plus it would be 5 times a 50K salary. Let's not even mention those insane councils "helping" young people by propping up the housing market.

    We don't like people who con the old and infirm out of their savings - what makes people who sign up 2 year olds to a lifetime of debt so they can go on holiday twice a year all their working life, end up with no pension then say "pay for me youngster, I'm all washed up"?

  • Comment number 99.

    @Duvinrouge

    Markets, profits and money are bad? This is such old-fashioned thinking. My partner is a card carrying Commie and he would retain all three. How do you propose to organise production? By committee? Do you want to be told what you can and can't purchase? There have always been markets to trade surplus goods; price signals are valuable for deciding what to produce. Efficient trading requires money otherwise you'd be scratching your head as to how to swap your share of output from your production unit for the goods you need.

    Focus on achieving the common ownership of land and capital before prescribing how things would work after you've done that.

  • Comment number 100.

    I don't think Stephanie F quite realised the profundity of this tweet yesterday:

    "Strange times indeed. Tonight on the news I had economic success stories from Newcastle. Later @paulmasonnews had the gloom in Kent."

    One was educated at Harvard and spent time as advisor to (arch de-regulator) Larry Summers, the other is currently at CUNY with David Harvey.

    I guess one person's gloom, is another person's realism.

 

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