The dilemmas facing the new British government, though not them alone, in dealing with the biggest ever peace-time indebtedness, are how much of public expenditure to cut, what to cut and how to cut it and above all when to start. Do too little too late and “the markets” won’t like it and that would bring untold disasters. Do too much too soon and we’ll be in for a double dip recession. And then “the markets” would forsake us for good and all. We need to reduce short term indebtedness before its costs bring the recovery to a shuddering halt. That mustn’t be allowed to happen since its only a recovered economy that will eventually repay the long term debt and finally get us out of this mess.
Well, where are the very clever economists who invented all this jargon about double dip recessions and “the markets”? It’s exactly the sort of conundrum their sophisticated mathematical models should be able to solve. They have the computational power at their disposal; why are they not doing their sums and coming up with the answers?
Media commentators are continually condemning politicians of all parties for not being straight up with us, telling us the bad news about what they intend to cut. But, till now, politicians have probably been 100% honest on this score if nothing else. The simple fact was they didn’t know what they were going to cut. Because the economists hadn’t come up with any coherent suggestions. Because they didn’t know either. Because their fancy mathematical models didn’t work any better on that, than they did on credit default swaps, or eliminating the risk on sub prime mortgages, etc etc etc.
Maybe it’s time for people controlling the real world – who Keynes referred to as ‘the madmen in authority’ – to ignore theoretical economists, and apply the lessons of experience and common sense instead.