Perhaps Alistair Darling should have listened yesterday to the wise words of that well known philosopher Ronan Keating...
YOU SAY IT BEST, WHEN YOU SAY NOTHING AT ALL
His statement to the House of Commons yesterday said nothing he hadn't said before. The markets were looking for political leadership and all they got was piss and wind. The phrase of the moment seems to be "We'll do anything we have to", a phrase which is rapidly replacing "making the difficult decisions" in the lexicon of political parroting. It's all very well saying these things, but they are meaningless when unaccompanied by firm action. In some ways it is perhaps a tacit recognition that in the end the markets will have to right themselves and find their own level. When even a $700 billion bailout agreement in the US fails to calm the markets, I suppose it's understandable if British and European politicians feel a little helpless.
After an all too brief recovery early this morning the stock market is falling again, with the Royal Bank of Scotland losing 30 % of its value. All hopes are now being pinned on an interest rate cut this week. Would this restore market confidence? I cannot judge, but as everyday passes our situation becomes more worrying. We're told our economy is best placed to withstand global pressures yet our currency has fallen more than any other, we have more banks in trouble than any other, unemployment rates are growoing faster than most and inflation appears to be spiralling.
One thing is for sure. This is not a temporary economic blip. It will take many many years to recover from. And it will change the terms of the whole economic debate. Remember 'sharing the proceeds of growth' anyone?