This is what Mark Carney should be most worried about

Much ink has been spilled about the “enormous challenges” facing Mark Carney in his new role as Bank of England Governor – but I’m afraid to say that most of it has missed the point. The challenges everyone’s tended to focus on so far have been the country’s financial problems – the broken banking system – and its broken economy. And while it’s right that these will be considerable issues facing … Continue Reading ››

What was really agreed last night in Brussels

On the basis that if Jean-Claude Juncker denies something, it's probably true, it’s worth examining the deal cranked through Brussels last night to “save” Greece. Juncker and his fellow eurocrats insist it doesn’t involve any debt forgiveness for the benighted country. And that’s odd, since the more one examines it, that’s precisely what this looks like. As a result of this … Continue Reading ››

Mark Carney: should we believe the hype?

"The best central banker in the world" - The Economist on Alan Greenspan, 2000 "The outstanding central banker of his generation" - George Osborne on Mark Carney, 2012 Is anyone else out there taken aback by the almost universal adulation of Mark Carney, the incoming Bank of England Governor? I'm not suggesting Carney isn't worth the money or effort that's gone into his recruitment. There's no doubt the Canadian financial system performed well … Continue Reading ››

Mark Carney: How Osborne got his man

Until last month, George Osborne had more or less given up hope of persuading Mark Carney to come over to the UK to succeed Sir Mervyn King as Bank of England Governor. As a result, the mood in Downing Street was one of depressed resignation: all of the other candidates, while worthy, had niggling flaws. Paul Tucker, the deputy governor and runaway favourite, was tainted by his handling of the Libor crisis … Continue Reading ››

How the Chancellor may break his fiscal rules: a five-minute guide

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that the Government will have to borrow more than expected this year, and that George Osborne will miss at least one – and possibly both – of his two fiscal rules. How exactly has this happened? Here is the story in three pictures from the IFS report on the autumn statement. The main reason the public finances will disappoint this year is that … Continue Reading ››

The euro is still in big, big trouble: here’s why

As I’ve said before, the best way to understand the euro crisis is through the medium of beer. Take an extended pub crawl through the Eurozone and you soon discover an uncanny pattern: the more deeply-embroiled a country is in the crisis, the more its local beers cost. This impression is borne out by the statistics. Here’s what’s happened to beer prices in various European countries since 1996. Continue Reading ››

Methinks the King doth protest too much

To be honest, I think there is a lot of fuss about nothing with this scheme… …I don't think it affects anything very much… …It’s a whole lot of fuss about nothing… …I frankly am not very fussed about this one way or another… Sir Mervyn King, November 14 2012 There was a moment half-way through the Bank of England’s Inflation Report press conference when I gave up writing down Sir Mervyn King’s … Continue Reading ››

Apple vs Obama

A few people who read my letter to Apple assumed for some reason that I’m an Apple hater – or indeed that I had foresworn Apple products entirely. They couldn’t be more wrong. I love Apple – always have and probably always will (though the affair is distinctly less romantic these days). As I made perfectly clear in my letter, I have had Apple products for years – since before … Continue Reading ››