The full tables for the YouGov/Sunday Times poll are now up here.

Economic confidence is very poor – the proportion of people expecting the country to fall back into recession has grown to 73%, up from 59% when YouGov asked in February. Only 8 expect their financial situation to improve in the next 12 months, with 63% expecting it to get worse (a net feel good factor of minus 55, the lowest since January) and only 31% of people think the government is managing the economy well, with 59% thinking they are doing so badly. Despite this, the Conservatives still have a lead over Labour as the party people think would best deal with the country’s economic problems, 30% to 24%.

Ahead of the Labour conference opinions of Ed Miliband are generally negative. His overall approval rating stands at minus 33, with the boost in perceptions that he enjoyed from “hackgate” having almost completely disappeared. Ratings of his leadership so far are miserable – only 18% of people think he has provided an effective opposition, 64% think he has not. Only 19% think he has made it clear what he stands for, 66% do not. Only 19% of people think he would be up to the job of Prime Minister, compared to 62% who think he would not.

His ratings are poor even amongst Labour supporters – 51% of Labour voters do not think Miliband has provided an effective opposition, 52% think he has not made it clear what he stands for. 45% of Labour voters think would be up to the job of Prime Minister, 34% think he would not.

36% of people think that the party would have been better off with David Miliband, including 45% of Labour supporters. Only 6% think the party would have been worse off with David Miliband, 35% think it would be no different. Asked who the best leader of the Labour party would be, 30% of people pick David Miliband to a rather cutting 9% for Ed Miliband.

There was also a BPIX poll in the Mail on Sunday, which had topline figures of CON 37%, LAB 40%, LDEM 10%.


152 Responses to “YouGov on the economy and Miliband”

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  1. Alec

    ” they made extremely poor business decisions.”

    They did, but aren’t you falling into the Greenspan error of assuming that the interests of the company would always create a self-correcting mechanism?

    The executives of the banks made huge personal gains from their activities. They didn’t give a damn that they were destroying their companies (and their countries) in the process.

  2. @top Hat – I was quite tickled by @Colin’s rather scathing comments about Ed’s ‘temporary policy’.

    It rather made me recall his sterling defence of Cameron in opposition, when we were never quite sure if a policy was a policy, a promise, a commitment, an aspiration, a cast iron pledge, an ‘idea we’re looking at’, or just something that popped into his head in the middle of an interview. Colin was on particularly good form when attempting to deconstruct Cast Iron Cammo’s pledge to have a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty.

    But I guess if the opposition are Tory its sensible to be flexible and adjust to changing circumstances, whereas different rules clearly apply to Labour oppositions.

  3. Well, the banks were certainly robbed blind by the brokers, but they were robbed in broad daylight with their eyes open.

    But in my opinion most of the borrowers involved knew they were involved in crime too. In the example I gave earlier, the woman concerned signed a Self-Cert form declaring that she was earning £35,000 pa from her successful graphic design business. The business didn’t exist. She in fact alternated between periods on benefits and periods working for mininum wage in supermarkets.

    She may have been a special case, as her father is a big drug dealer and the whole thing was probably just money laundering, but it still gives you an idea of the kind of nonsense that would find its way onto those application forms.

  4. On this poll; I’m beginning to swing a bit more to @Rob Sheffield’s view. While I rather like Ed, these numbers are bad for him. He can’t carry on indefinitely with such poor personal ratings.

    As a whole, Labour do seem to be getting things a bit tighter and more organised though. The first signs of a clearer path through the problems they face and what are beginning to sound like some interesting challenges to the coalition emerging.

  5. @Alec,

    As you know I’m a great believer in oppositions keeping their powder dry, and I’ve no criticism of Ed Miliband on that score.

    But I think you’re being a little unfair to poor Colin. Cammo’s referendum pledge was extremely carefully worded and was in fact very, very clear. He didn’t break it at all. Of course the public and media perception of the pledge wasn’t consistent with its actual wording, and one has to assume that was at least partly the intention of the Tories when designing it. But still… easily defended I think.

    As for Miliband’s new temporary policy on tuition fees, I actually think it is a bit counter-intuitive. It was clearly designed to be a headline grabbing announcement, aimed like a dagger at the heart of the LibDems on an issue where they are most vulnerable and hapless. But why have a temporary policy on that subject and not on any other? Besides which, Miliband is still proposing a policy that would have been anathema to students before the election. He didn’t sign the NUS pledge, admittedly, because like the other Labour ministers he didn’t want to “preempt the Browne report”. And yet, a year after the report came out he still can’t decide what his policy should be and has to resort to a stopgap. Shameless politicking rather than thoughtful policy-making, but it is the sort of thing that oppositions are supposed to do and I don’t blame him for it. I can’t honestly see it being that effective though.

  6. Neil A

    “But in my opinion most of the borrowers involved knew they were involved in crime too.”

    That wouldn’t surprise me.

    When I retired from public service and opened a consultancy, I was quite surprised as to what my accountant told me I could claim against tax, and what I most certainly couldn’t!

    However, if he had suggested that I could also claim for something dodgy by labelling it differently, and telling a “little white lie”, I can’t put hand on heart and say I would have refused the professional advice.

    The case you were dealing with is doubtless at the more extreme end of deliberate fraud, but I suspect that, for many, it’s the “thin end of the wedge” into fraud because a “professional” has said it’s OK.

  7. I don’t think they did gamble. They squirrelled away their percentages and if properties crashed, well the bank might lose but as individuals they didn’t.

  8. alex, oldnat, neil

    i’m reading an essay at the moment about bankruptcy as a business model. basically it’s possible to make more money driving a business into the ground than running it properly the essay only covers things that happened in the 80s but ominously has a chapter on the bankruptcy of Chile. i have also watched several lecturers by professor black and he explains how management uses incentives to persuade employers to do stupid things knowing full well that it could cause the collapse of the company but not caring because they are able to pay them self large bonuses in the meantime. i recommend watching prof William Black’s lectures, he really knows his stuff and does not appear to have a political agenda. i cant understand why anyone would make this subject into a right V left battle, a lot of the blogs i read are right wing and they are furious about bailouts but i read left wing blogs as well and they are also angry.

  9. @Alec;

    So you were saying that this money decreases by value of 2% over a given time? If MV=PQ, and we hold that V and Q stay equal, if M drops, P drops. It doesn’t seem to me this currency would do anything because prices would fall at the same rate the total amount of money fell… there’s probably something obvious I’m missing, though.

  10. @Crossbat11

    Cameron’s uncle is Sir William Dugdale, a former chairman of Villa, which explains the connection. DC is also very familiar with the area as next to QPR is the Jack Tizard School which his son, Ivan, attended.

    I hadn’t realised that he was at the game until I got home so either his approval ratings are not too bad or his recognition ratings are very bad. Football crowds don’t normally miss an opportunity to give free advice.

    I won’t comment on the game except that you can assume that I, as usual, would have seen it with a blue (and white hooped) bias.

  11. Alec,

    (1) I don’t think that any government is going to give up its monopoly on money* for quite some time, if ever. After all, if we can have this rubbish Bavarian scheme as legal tender, why not euros? Or dollars? Or Swiss Francs? Or 19th century style private coinage?

    (2) I’m not sure how willing any investor would be to sell bonds for such a currency (a currency that I can’t exchange, which loses value, which doesn’t appreciate, and which loses its value faster than the rate of inflation).

    (3) Though it is a misconception to think that it is highstreet banks who are the only recipients of new money via QE, they nevertheless receive much of it. However, banks NEVER lend this money out; they only use reserves (i.e. currency) to meet claims their liabilities (i.e. deposits).

    (4) Carrying on from that point: if banks can’t exchange this new currency for financial assets, then the main channel of QE on the economy (increasing asset prices and thereby boosting the money supply) is taken away.

    So I think what we have here is a policy that governments would never accept, which would yield dubious (if any) profits for bond sellers, and which wouldn’t have any serious macroeconomic effects.

    QE is enough as it is. We know that it works and we know why it works.

    (The Bank of England could also stop paying interest on banks’ reserves at the BoE and even start charging them for the service, which would reduce the demand for base money and increase banks’ preference for holding securities rather than reserves. The Swedes used such a scheme in the most recent crisis and have recovered relatively well. However, apparentely there are technical problems in doing so in a zero-interest rate environment, since it reduces banks’ willingness to pay interest on deposits rather than charge people for the privilidge. QE is far safer: QE is not at all far from central banks’ typical open-market operations when they target interest rates.)

    * The Bavarian scheme you describe didn’t involve money, but tokens. The difference is that the latter are only used as the medium of exchange (i.e. as what buyers give up and sellers take in a transaction) while money is both a medium of exchange and a medium of account (i.e. it is used to denominate and settle debts).

  12. @Richard,

    I know exactly what you mean about the left vs right battle.

    I am an ardent capitalist and truly believe that, by and large, the market is the best mechanism for distributing resources.

    To me, the existence of successful companies, and successful businessmen, is absolutely central to my politics. That it is possible to pervert the aims and strategies of business to benefit from a company not being successful is practically heresy and I’d be at the front of any metaphorical mob with my pitchfork.

    I feel the same way about tax evasion. The reason I believe it is right to allow people to get rich, is because a share of the wealth they generate is harnessed to the common good. That they should slide out from under the harness is again heresy and makes me want to hit someone.

    What I think the world of capitalism and the free-market needs is an Augean stable clean, much like politics needs one (after the expenses scandal) and journalism needs one (after the phone-hacking scandal). Lights need to be shone in the dark corners and the gap between what people profess to do and what they actually do needs to be narrowed.

    I can’t see any reason that a right-leaning viewpoint shouldn’t chime perfectly with a left-leaning one on these issues.

  13. Top Hat,

    There is a difference between a fall in quantity and a fall in value. I think that Alec was talking about the latter. As you suggest, a fall in quantity, ceteris paribus, INCREASES the value of something; the price level is the price of money and therefore a 2% fall in the quantity of money would be deflationary.

    I don’t know how the Bavarians were decreasing the value of the tokens. I would assume it would involve increasing the supply of the tokens by 2% a month*. Normal monetary theory doesn’t apply here since the issuers of the tokens are not monopolists (and so cannot determine the price) nor are there key parts of our monetary system like deposits and loans, since the tokens aren’t actually money (as I covered above).

    * Bitcoin, another token scheme, essentially has the opposite effect by fixing the growth of the token supply using a computer program, which has a deflationary effect.

  14. @Alec

    ‘But the clever bit, and the bit with implications for QE, is that if you don’t spent the currency within 3 months it loses 2% of it’s value’

    Don’t we already have a slower version of this in operation right now due to negative real interest rates. Rpi is over 5% with the banks paying you 0-3% so you lose at least 2% every year. Inflation is not high enough to force expenditure.
    In Yugoslavia during the hyperinflation, you would enter a restaurant, order your meal and pay for it, then wait for the meal to be prepared and the price to double.

  15. Neil A,

    “The reason I believe it is right to allow people to get rich, is because a share of the wealth they generate is harnessed to the common good.”

    A perfectly good reason, no doubt, but shouldn’t the main reason for allowing people to get rich be that they can only do so via voluntary exchange that enriches other people, IF the state is doing its prime job* correctly: ensuring that economic transactions ARE voluntarily and not obtained through illegitimate force, threats, fraud and so on. Illegal transactions aside, making money should be a beneficial activity- providing, capital goods, and services to those who are willing to give something up in return.

    (I’m also suspicious of terms like the “common good”. For example, distributing from the rich to the poor in order to provide a safety net may or may not be good for people in general, but its key justification is that it helps people from the horrors of dire poverty.)

    * Not to be confused with its primal job, which is the extortion of rents from monopolies on force, currency, interstate travel etc., which can be traced back to the origins of the state in the middle of the last millenium.

  16. Neil A

    One of the reasons given at the time for PFI schemes being not quite as appalling as they were, was that the management companies would be taxed on their profits.

    In reality, PFI finance is a tradeable commodity, and much of it has now been moved offshore to avoid paying tax.

    Our children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and great great grandchildren will be paying the cost, as in many schemes. While the building maintenance contract only lasts 30 years, the land on which it lies still belongs to the management company, and needs to be leased back for a further 100 years to gain access to the building.

    A “mixed economy” balancing public and private interests would, no doubt, be acceptable to most on here.

    That balance has been long lost.

  17. Aleksandar,

    “Inflation is not high enough to force expenditure.”

    It certainly has had an impact on the velocity of money recently. Adjusted M4 is growing at about 2% PA, while nominal GDP growth (inflation + real growth) is around 4.5%. The Bank of England doesn’t publish M1 (currency in circulation plus deposits that you can use for transactions) figures anymore, but I imagine its velocity has accelerated since 2010.

    It really wouldn’t take much QE to have a very significant impact on UK NGDP. The main problem is that much of it would be in the form of inflation (as would be any fiscal stimulus) because of the supply-side problems in the UK right now. I remember Alec Cairncross once putting it well: “Economics is about supply AND demand”. The reverse is true as well: if productivity is weak, then an increase in demand will mostly or entirely result in inflation rather than output.

  18. @Bill Patrick

    I suspect that you are right that velocity has increased from the unusual conditions of 2008/9. There was a lot of hoarding of cash as trust in the banking system collapsed. I suspect that now we have the conflict between inflation making accelerated spending more attractive against economic uncertainty causing increased saving/ debt repayment.

    I agree about the inflationary impact of more QE especially as the continued depreciation of sterling would import more inflation. The benefits of a competitive devaluation are lost when your export markets aren’t buying or you can’t expand production.

  19. Investment News for political anoraks.

    Ladbrokes Bank are offering various new fixed rate tax free bonds with the following cumulative returns:
    1600% 0-10 option
    500% 11-20 option
    400% 21-30 option
    300% 31-40 option
    400% 41-50 option
    600% 51-60 option
    800% 61-70 option
    600% 71+ option

    Cheques to be marked “LD GE Seats Account”. The term of the bonds is currently fixed at 3.7 years but can be shortened by a majority vote of the fund’s trustees at two special meetings, the latter 14 days after the former.

    An IFA commented: “The 31-40 option and those upwards should be treated as having junk status. But one of the 0-10 and 11-20 options seems likely to mature successfully. They remind me of the returns on some similar Scottish investment bonds that matured this May. Investors are advised to act quickly as these rates won’t be around for long.”

  20. Aleksandar,

    My points is less a balance of payments one and more one of the capacity of an economy to respond to an increase in demand. The supply-side of the UK economy has weakened over the last ten years and the “output gap” has been repeatedly overestimated in recent years.

    A demand-stimulus (whether fiscal or monetary) would boost growth, but not by much. The only solutions to the UK’s economic problems are in higher productivity and that takes time.

  21. Phil

    Great post! (still laughing)

  22. @ Crossbat11

    “Unfortunately, for some reason, I couldn’t play the clip you provided but when I saw it involved a debate between Mitt Romney and Rik Perry I presumed it must have been hilarious. In fact the mere thought of it made me laugh, so thanks for cheering me up!”

    It was hilarious, made be bawl with laughter. The funniest though was Kristen Wigg’s impression of Michelle Bachmann (she’s a great comic actress, her character in the movie “Bridesmaids” reminded me a little of Gordon Brown).

    I loved the response Bachmann to how she would rebound in the polls: ” “Shephard, I am persisent. And when I want something, I won’t take no for an answer. Take for instance when I first met my husband. We were both at a party and I saw him across the room acting out all the parts from the musical Grease. Smitten, I asked him out for a hot water with lemon. He said ‘Miss Thing, here’s a quarter. Buy yourself a clue.’ But wouldn’t give up.” LOL. That made me crack up in hysterics.

    Groucho Marx was a pretty funny guy.

  23. @ Old Nat

    “They did, but aren’t you falling into the Greenspan error of assuming that the interests of the company would always create a self-correcting mechanism?

    The executives of the banks made huge personal gains from their activities. They didn’t give a damn that they were destroying their companies (and their countries) in the process.”

    I don’t think they do self-correct, that’s why there needs to be government intervention.

    I don’t know how you would go about implementing this but I think we’ve got a problem with large corporations laying off massive numbers of employees who they could afford to keep only to give their executives large bonuses (and I think you have this same problem too). Carly Fiorina did this when she was a failure at Hewlett Packard. She layed off tens of thousands of employees, outsourced all the jobs to India. And with the savings bought herself a private plane and a yacht.

    I think there needs to be a way to penalize corporate executives who do this. I don’t want the government interfering with business decisions. But when layoffs occur in a profitable business solely to enrich a few corporate executives, those executives should be penalized.

  24. Neil A

    “What I think the world of capitalism and the free-market needs is an Augean stable clean, much like politics needs one (after the expenses scandal) and journalism needs one (after the phone-hacking scandal). Lights need to be shone in the dark corners and the gap between what people profess to do and what they actually do needs to be narrowed.”

    I concur. It isn’t so much left vs right as right vs wrong in this case.

  25. I think, re-reading Neil A’s post, I am probably guilty of equating criminality with capitalism, and unfairly.

    Where it does appear to become blurred is when Banks are deemed to big to fail and therefore criminals not only escape punishment but continue to both keep their ill-gotten gains and potentially accrue more.

  26. Lord Ashcroft has polled marginal seats – 13,000 voters, 41 seats.
    8 are Tory held with LibDems in second, the rest are Tory with Labour in second.
    In Tory vs Labour seats, the result is Lab 44%, Tory 36%.
    Tory vs LibDem has Tory 41%, Lab 26% and LibDems on 18%.

    The Tories (and their supporters) are spinning this as a great poll as it shows ‘Tories have kept their 2010 support levels’ – but surely this means the Tories would lose their Midlands gains and push Labour closer to a majority?

  27. @SoCalLiberal

    In fairness, if lay-offs can be made in a profitable business, leaving it still able to make the same profits, then the managers should be making those lay-offs. No company should be carrying additional staff it doesn’t “need”. The issue of outsourcing to India is in a sense a separate problem. On the one hand it seems unpatriotic, on the other opposing it seems racist.

    @TingedFringe,

    I think you’re right. If Labour are really 8% ahead in Tory-Lab marginals then they are outperforming their national VI showing in those seats, which would be a reversal of the “marginals effect” the Tories saw at the GE.

  28. Tinged

    Ah but what they lose to labour is made up for by gains from dems. Odd that there wasn’t more polling from con/lib marginals but maybe lord A didn’t want to scare the coalition partners too much.

  29. NEILA & HENRY

    Thanks :-)

    Richard i Norway

    Thanks for the stuff on Fannie & Freddie court action.

    I note that since these two are now bust it is the Regulator suing on their behalf.

    It is going to be a fascinating action-partic in USA courts.

    Those Banks will find whatever defence they can-and I just wonder if the appalling governance of Fannie & Freddie will appear as a defence tool.

    In the link I sent you the history of political interference,& manipulation; political placemen handing out favours & ripping off the tax payer, kick-backs & fraud…………-did you see those bonuses Richard?

    Its going to be interesting indeed.

    So-EB will say Labour will not reverse any Coalition cuts/ Tax rises-that would be irresponsible-we got it wrong on Banking supervision-didn,t alway spend wisely……………so please trust us with the economy next time.

    Does that work?

    So soon I mean.

    We shall see.

  30. BILL PATRICK

    “My points is less a balance of payments one and more one of the capacity of an economy to respond to an increase in demand. The supply-side of the UK economy has weakened over the last ten years and the “output gap” has been repeatedly overestimated in recent years.

    A demand-stimulus (whether fiscal or monetary) would boost growth, but not by much. The only solutions to the UK’s economic problems are in higher productivity and that takes time.”

    Absolutely spot on.

    A very astute & sensible observation.

    OBR believe that there is probably no output gap to speak of.

    Personally I think we have a huge skills gap in strategic sectors-particularly manufacturing.

    At present there is the risk that any industrial stimulus will suck in migrant labour , leaving welfare costs little altered.

  31. Neil

    It is often the case that a company can make the same amount of money with fewer workers. The only question is for how long, often layoffs maximize short term profits but can wreck a company in the long term because of lack of maintanece or being unable to train new staff to replace employees that are retiring. Often layoffs are coupled with a cut in capital spending which can also harm long term prospects. But there is no cure for it, well some tax changes might help and a different pay structure for management. But I think short term thinking is more of a cultural problem which you can’t make policy for.

  32. @Oldnat. Thanks.

    Seriously, if you combine the 0-10, 11-20 and 21-30 options in the appropriate ratios, it works out that Ladbrokes are offering a bet at odds of better than 4/3 that the LDs will get 30 seats or less at the GE.

    Once boundary reviews are completed, they’ll be starting from a notional base of around 45 seats, so this seems very good value.

  33. Brilliant analysis of the proposed boundary changes on the political situation in Northern Ireland – follow the link:
    http://www.allthatsleft.co.uk/2011/09/have-the-boundary-changes-done-sinn-fein-a-favour/

  34. @Top Hat & Bill Patrick – you’ve missed the central part of my post on the Bavarian money experiment. It doesn’t lose value if you spend it – only if you fail to spend it within a three month time period. This is the
    key to using negative interest rates.

    The currency is estimated to circulate 2.5 times faster than the Euro and this is the key factor behind it’s potential use within a QE framework – it ensures faster velocity of spending in a controlled economic area so that all the money circulates locally and cannot be removed.

    @Bill Patrick – “However, banks NEVER lend this money [QE} out; they only use reserves (i.e. currency) to meet claims their liabilities (i.e. deposits).”

    I don’t think that’s true. They took QE cash in exchange for a variety of assets and then proceeded to invest the QE liquidity in overseas markets. This is what created the asset bubbles and the runaway inflation in places like China and India.

    QE stabilised the banks, so worked in that sense, but hasn’t helped the real economy. That’s the problem.

    [snip]

  35. @TingedFringe – “The Tories (and their supporters) are spinning this as a great poll as it shows ‘Tories have kept their 2010 support levels’”

    Do you have a link?

    Once or twice I have seen comments on this site about how an LD collapse will benefit the Tories “because Southern LD seats will go Tory, but LD supporters in the North are less likely to support Labour” or some such.

    On Electoral Calculus we see atm:
    Con gain 24 seats from LD
    Lab gain 14 seats from LD
    Nats gain 4 seats from LD
    Lab gains 1 seat from Nats (Wales)
    Lab gains 61 seats from Con

    If Tories are not able to make increases on their 2010 vote share, then those 24 seats become a real battleground for the coalition parties.

  36. @Colin – “Personally I think we have a huge skills gap in strategic sectors-particularly manufacturing.
    At present there is the risk that any industrial stimulus will suck in migrant labour , leaving welfare costs little altered.”

    I think this is a real worry too. This is why I am so critical of some of the changes to business support funding. The big cuts in university research and changes to investment taxation are mainly negative in my view, although there have been some increases in R&D allowances, although it’s quite hard to define R&D for tax purposes and they have been accompanied by big cuts in basic investment allowances.

    Osborne’s other positive changes have been designed to assist entrepreneurs take more returns from selling on companies and reducing profits taxes on big business, neither of which helps the mass of smaller start ups that are less likely to expand into larger companies.

  37. From this YouGov ST poll:

    This coalition govt good/bad for people like you?
    (good 21%, bad 53%)

    Britain will go back into recession in the next 12 months?
    (likely 59%, unlikely 28%)

    Stick with deficit reduction (even if this means less growth) 34%
    Shift to a growth strategy (even if this means deficit stays the same or gets worse) 38%

    [But] best policies on the economy?
    (Con 30%, Lab 24%, LD 6%)

    Perhaps there should be a question along the lines:

    Stick with the current strategy of deficit reduction (and less growth) even if this means the deficit gets worse?

  38. @Alec

    The high velocity of the chiemgauer can be explained partly by the 8% negative interest rate but also by the absence of savings in that currency. As it is an alternative currency people can still keep their savings in the euro and also use the chiemgauer as their preferred currency for small transactions. There is also the explicit convertibility with the euro.
    To achieve the same velocity would surely require all euro savings to disappear which to all intents and purposes hyperinflation would achieve.

  39. I think the lack of skills is going to be a worse problem in the future.

    Any medium/long term plan for the economy MUST include improving access to a good education for all, including university and other after school learning. I don’t accept the argument that the learner benefits and therefore should pay. The whole economy benefits (unless the graduate flees abraod, in which case he’s not going to pay back any tax, let alone an outstanding loan or a graduate tax).

    It’s all about planning longer term than just an electoral cycle.

  40. A historical (albeit mostly symbolic) victory for French left yesterday. For the first time under the 5th Republic (1958 – present day) the Senate has a progressive majority. The French Senate is elected not by the people, but by 72.000 representatives of local governments, regions, municipalities etc. This victory might seem a logical consequence of local victories of French socialists and their allies in the past few years, but this is not so simple, because a) rural communities are over-represented, and as in most European countries, they favor the right, b) only half of the Senate members were elected yesterday. Despite of that, the right was not able to conserve its majority. This is a very bad sign for President Sarkozy 7 months before the PE of 2012. If they cannot convince the independent and conservative-leaning local representatives of the small rural communities, that used to form their main electoral base, then what happens with the whole electorate, given that in the great urban centers they are already doomed (e.g. in Paris the left elected 8 senators and the right just 3)? Suddenly the predictions that have Sarkozy lose he runoff with less than 45% does not seem so exaggerated!!

  41. @Billy Bob

    “Perhaps there should be a question along the lines:

    Stick with the current strategy of deficit reduction (and less growth) even if this means the deficit gets worse?”

    I’m a bit of a sceptic about a lot of this sub-question polling data, mainly because some of the questions appear either loaded or leading and the responses seem perverse and contradictory.

    If all the micro-detail of the recent YG poll is to be believed, a typical respondent is more or less saying the following; “I’m very worried about our economic prospects and I don’t think the current Government’s policies are working but I have more confidence in them than the opposition’s and I also think that the Labour leader is a bit of a plonker. That said, if there was a a General Election tomorrow, I’d vote Labour!”

    Hhmmm, let me have a little think about the rigour and reliabity of that data for a moment. Are we being invited to believe five impossible things before breakfast here?

    On the seemingly disastrous Miliband personal ratings, I’m not sure all the polling evidence is as dire as this recent YG poll suggests either. I know Anthony has picked over and presented the entrails in some detail, and there are large crumbs of comfort to be found therein for Conservative supporters who might otherwise be disappointed by a growing Labour lead, but I was reading some articles in the Sunday press that suggested, certainly in some polls (ICM), that the gap between him and Clegg and Cameron was not a massively significant one.

    I’m a bit more with Alec rather than Rob S on this one. He wasn’t my choice as Labour Leader but I think he’s an easy man to underestimate and belittle and that the party should stick with him for the long haul. There’s a nice contrast developing between him and Cameron that may gain public traction in time.

  42. R Huckle @ Neil A

    “My experience is that any work type that involves commision payments without suitable supervison and regulatory oversight, is bound to lead to dodgy dealings, as people get greedy.”

    Very like PRP and targets in the NHS then?

  43. crossbat

    “I’m very worried about our economic prospects and I don’t think the current Government’s policies are working but I have more confidence in them than the opposition’s and I also think that the Labour leader is a bit of a plonker. That said, if there was a a General Election tomorrow, I’d vote Labour!”

    sounds perfectly logical to me

    my mother said “i hate the tories but ill vote for peter bone cos hes a nice man” so you see the problem is that the average voter is insane

  44. Alec

    “QE stabilised the banks, so worked in that sense, but hasn’t helped the real economy. That’s the problem. ”

    Not so according to BoE-I suppose they should know :-

    “The emergency quantitative easing programme rolled out after the financial crisis boosted the economy by as much as 2%, the Bank of England said today, adding weight to calls for more money printing.

    Its QE programme saw it buy £200bn of assets, equivalent to about 14% of GDP, between March 2009 and January 2010, to help breathe life into the UK economy following the credit crunch.

    The report, its first to measure the effect of QE on the economy, found it provided a “significant” aid to growth and helped GDP increase by between 1.5% and 2%. This was equivalent to dropping interest rates by between 1.5 and 3 percentage points, it found.”

    Guardian.

  45. NICKP

    “Any medium/long term plan for the economy MUST include improving access to a good education for all, including university and other after school learning”

    …..close……..if you make that effective teaching of literacy & numeracy in school and university graduates with degrees in subjects relevant to economic growth & future job prospects.

  46. @colin – I saw that report and I was interested in its findings. I won’t criticise the BoE for writing a report that says what they chose to do worked – I really don’t think the bank is in the game of trying to falsely justify its actions and I’m sure they genuinely believe they took the correct course of action.

    What I’m more interested in is whether they really do understand the real economy.They are, after all, just another bunch of economists, and it is worth recalling that in the months around the Lehman crash they were refusing to drop interest rates, largely oblivious to the looming crash, confident that inflation, not depression, was the big risk, and pretty insistent that there would not be a big fall in growth. Their record on this score wasn’t very good.

    QE probably did boost the economy to a degree I’m sure. [Interesting that if it provided a 2% boost, presumably we would have been in constant recession without it? Not too great a vote of confidence in the underlying strength of the economy]. The key question in my mind is how it did this and what is the longevity of the positive effect. Looking at the economy now, we would have to say that the growth impacts didn’t last that long.

    I’m not an economist, so I don’t know the answer, but I do ponder what might have happened if £200b of QE had instead bought the assets of domstic mortgage holders instead. Banks would still have been recapitalised, particularly if distressed mortgages had been bought up. Householders would be free of £200b of debt, which would in turn provide a £12b or so annual demand boost as they would be able to divert interest and capital repayments into other spending, and the housing market would be spared distressed asset sales that depress prices.

    Of course, this would raise all kinds of issues about who deserves to have their mortgage paid off for nothing, but does not the bank bailout raise the same issues of moral hazard even more directly? Personally, if we are going to throw billions at the problem, I’d rather see ordinary families benefit alongside the bankers, even if some of them don’t necessarily deserve to.

  47. Alec

    Thanks

    I’m not an economist either :-)

    Going back to something we agreed on however-lack of spare capacity , excacebated by a skills shortfall:-

    The Times today quotes from IMF’s World Economic Outlook :-

    “Labour markets in five advanced economies-US.Japan. Germany. France. UK-all suffered declines in high-productivity manufacturing jobs between 2000 & 2007., and shifts to lower productivity roles in the services sector”.

    This is one of the most worrying things I have read , amongst a bunch of gloomy news.

    I really feel that those global shifts in economic competencies & competitiveness have gone under the radar-masked by booming financial services based on asset bubbles-and in some countries the mirage of “growth” based on state borrowing & bloated public sectors.

    As the credit crunch & sovereign debt crises expose those temporary sticking plasters for what they were-illusions-I don’t think we have begun to understand where that leaves us & the lifestyles we thought we had “earned”.

  48. @Myself – “I’m not an economist, so I don’t know the answer…..”

    Alec – do try to remember that being an economist doesn’t imply you know the answers either.

    @Colin – I think you’re correct. I suspect our governments bought into only part of the globalisation debate – the part favoured by short termist big business people who don’t really care what happens long term in any particular country. The other part we should have paid attention to was ensuring we had the continual skills and knowledge development to compete and develop.

  49. Crossbat

    Watch a William black lecture, he says it was deliberate, because while times were good they were paying out good dividends and large bonuses without putting money aside for defaults, knowing full well what would happen. Interestingly Barclays earlier in the year reported profits and many pundits saw this as a sign of health in the banking industry but they didn’t notice that most of the profits were as a result of reducing lose reserves, and that now it is operating on a very tight margin of error. This is not limited to Barclays most banks around the world are doing it, after all why not they are still backstage by the govt and the deposit insurance scheme

  50. Backstage should be backstopped

    Why has the post I’m replying to disappeared, odd

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