Thursday, March 13, 2008

Answer the effing question, Chancellor

I deliberately didn't watch or listen to any of the budget yesterday because I just knew it would wind me up and wouldn't be good for my health. However I did find myself listening to the Chancellor's ministerial broadcast interview on the Today programme. To be fair they did try to take him to task over the government's incompetence in their borrowing forecasts.

It was a typical interview with a politician, interviewer asks a reasonable question, something like "how can we believe your current forecasts for borrowing when you've been so wrong in the past". Politician answers with something completely different making them look good and slagging off the opposition. At this point I was screaming at the car radio for the twat to "answer the fucking question" and undoing all the good work of staying calm yesterday. Masochists can hear it all here, but it does carry a health warning.

So I resolved to find out exactly how bad the government's forecasts had been and planned to spend a bit of time this evening carry out some research. Fortunately the esteemed Wat Tyler at BOM had also heard the ministerial broadcast interview and had a similar idea:

I've just listened to Darling being interviewed on BBC R4 Today. In fairness to Evan Davis, he had a good go at forcing the Chancellor to admit his borrowing forecasts are wildly optimistic and asked why anyone should believe them?

Naturally Darling declined to answer, wittering on instead about how the world is very difficult and it is right to blah blah blah.

Anyway, he is much better than I at digging out these types of numbers and has come up with this table which saved me a lot of time:

By now you are probably, like me, wondering how anyone, let alone all those mega brains in the treasury, get it so wrong? Surely this can't all be exceptional circumstances? We have, after all, had a period of strained growth, as these bastards never tire of telling us.

I'll let Watt sum it up:
One possibility is incompetence, but blind incompetence would surely have produced a random pattern of errors. Moreover this has been a period where growth has turned out stronger than most expected, so if anything, future borrowing should have been overestimated.

No, the forecasts have been systematically massaged down throughout the whole period, and the massaging is almost certainly even worse in this Budget.

He's a bit too kind methinks, once is unfortunate, twice is questionable, 3 or more times on the trot is systematic lying to us.

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