The Impact of Labour on the Current Crisis

UPDATE 11th APRIL – I WAS RIGHT IN SAYING THAT THIS WAS TOO LOW AN ESTIMATE. IN THE BUDGET REPORT NATIONAL DEBT REACHES OVER 91% OF GDP, NOT 87% AS MODELLED HERE.

John Redwood today claimed that

“Labour governments typically devalue the currency, run out of money, and preside over industrial chaos. Welcome to the spring of discontent.”

However, Redwood fails to attempt to quantify the extent of this economic mess. Gordon Brown would counter that the current situation is none of his doing. The Labour Spin Doctors might try to imply that the Tories are saying that the worsening of the deficit & national debt is 100% down to them. This is literally untrue. The opposite – that none of the current economic crisis is due to Labour’s economic management – is equally not true.

It is important to be able to split out the worldwide impact from the Labour Government’s

economic ineptitude.

I did some simple calculations comparing two situations (all as a % of GDP)

1) An actual (Labour) one where in 2007, at the top of the cycle there was a budget deficit of 3.5% and a national debt of 44%.

2) A fiscally prudent (Prudence) one where budget deficits had not been incurred in the good years, so in 2007 the budget surplus was 0.30% and the national debt just under 30%.

Let us assume there is a similar worsening of public finances of 8.5% of GDP, so under Labour the deficit peaks at 12.2%, under Prudence 8.6%.

Under a Labour the national debt peaks at 87% of GDP in 2015; under Prudence 48% in 2013.

Under Labour we have a structural deficit of at least 6% of GDP; under Prudence at most 2%.

This is graphed below.

That is, the Labour (or specifically Brown) effect  is an increase if the National Debt of over 40% of GDP and a structural deficit of £90bn that must be eradicated. Under Prudence the increase in National Debt is less than 20% of GBP and a structural deficit of £30bn.

This is, however, much too generous on Labour, as I have assumed.

1)     Growth Rates are the same.

2)     The average level of interest on the National Debt is the same.

3)     The worsening of the Government Finances is the same from peak to trough.

4)     The effectiveness of the fiscal stimulus is the same.

5)     The turnaround in the public finances is the same.

6)     The growth forecast through to 2015 is 3.2% growth. This is roughly as forecast in the 2008 Autumn Pre-Budget forecast. Thereafter the growth rate will settle at 2% per year.

Therefore, by implication:-

–         There is no impact on the recovery through massive cuts in government spending and/or real tax rises.

–         There is no rise in interest rates as a result of the ballooning deficit.

–         There is no real problem in reducing public spending by 12% of the total in five years (or by around 30% of the total excluding the health sector, education and transfer payments), as against a 4% reduction.

–         The existing deficit pre-downturn had no impact on the size of the downturn.

–         The effectiveness of the economic stimulus was the same regardless of the size of the deficit, or whether it was on the back of a fiscal stimulus (through public expenditure increases) for the last seven years.

So going forward, it is fair to say that as long as the recovery is strong and interest premium does not rise in relation to the euro area, and the government achieves the deficit reduction targets, the national debt is at least 80% larger due to Labour, and the fiscal squeeze is at least 3 times greater.

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7 Comments

  1. Stuart Fairney

     /  22/03/2010

    If I may, this is a really excellent analysis. Quite why the tory front bench seems unable to make this case, escapes me.

    Reply
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