Monday, January 26, 2009

Who's the daddy?

Gordon Brown today will apparently return to an atrocious metaphor --

LONDON (AFP) – Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Monday the financial crisis must not be an excuse to retreat into protectionism and instead be viewed as the "difficult birth-pangs of a new global order".

In a speech, he will urge countries to avoid "muddling through as pessimists" and "make the necessary adjustment to a better future and setting the new rules for this new global order", according to his office.

At least the speechwriters had the sense to avoid New World Order. The cool bloggers have had fun with "neo-Hooverite" interpretations of the financial crisis and related ideas that the crisis is a response to excess and requires liquidation to repent for the past sins. But is it any more sensible to view the crisis as a necessary and perhaps even, eventually joyous, pathway to a better future?

The crisis was avoidable. Gordon Brown was around the top policymaking tables for the last 10 years while it was not being avoided. The output of the birth pangs carries his DNA.

UPDATE: Brown, apparently sensitive to the charge that he had 10 years to do something about the crisis, claims that he warned about it 10 years ago! Of course, any good speechwriter puts in a few CYA paragraphs to cover various eventualities. The question is not what Brown said, but what he did (see also Guido's quote establishing that what Brown meant was spreading the UK approach to regulation everywhere else).

FINAL UPDATE: David Cameron confronted Brown on the "birth pangs" quote in Questions to the PM. He got in a line about "death throes" but as usual with Gordon's bluster, couldn't make much headway otherwise.

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