false consensus, part two

More fake consensus. “It’s like a three ring circus in here!”

Here’s Chris Dillow, making the excellent point that the promises of cuts are significantly less than the average errors on forecasts of the budget balance. Here’s Samuel Brittan making the excellent point that the cure for the budget deficit is economic recovery. Here’s Economic Duncan pointing out that there’s very little point having a weak economy but “sound” public finances.

Swinging off Dunc’s blog, here’s Ben Broadbent of Goldman Sachs predicting that the UK will run a substantial trade surplus if sterling stays in its current range. Bonus points for those who spotted the irony of that forecast appearing in a story bylined to Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, last of the gold bugs. Here’s the Torygraph finance editor arguing that it’s actually not so bad and reporting an E&Y ITEM forecast that the pound will stay where it is until 2014 at least.

So you can put together quite a high-powered consensus that There Is No Crisis – a sort of Committee on the Present Modicum of Security. Better, it’s got the data, too. Chuck in Danny Blanchflower and you have the makings of a lobby that a) things aren’t so bad and b) the main threat now is George Osborne. Hilariously, if you were to ask most economists of note for their views on the UK, you’d probably get something like this screed of Austin Mitchell’s.

Yet, this hardly gets into the media-political space. The discourse is all about failure and cuts. Here’s some polling data from the TUC’s fine blog: 50% disagree that the top priority is deficit reduction; here’s some more. That we’re even having this debate is a testament to the continuing power of the establishment to forge false consensus.


  1. 1 Another Amateur Hour Airport Promoter? No.

    […] FT, applauding the emerging and largely ignored consensus about public finances amongst the sane (touched on by Alex over the weekend). This is too good an opportunity to waste. As the banks pay back, the […]




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