Thursday, April 02, 2009

Is Brown Paving the Way for a Visit to the IMF?

I'm watching Gordon Brown's press conference. It seems to me that the IMF announcement is the most interesting. When you couple it with what Treasury Minister Stephen Timms told Paul Waugh earlier, you just get the feeling that Alistair Darling might be following in the footsteps of Denis Healey and holding out his begging bowl sooner rather than later.

If you put aside some of the content (but not all of it) you have to admit that Gordon Brown put in a fairly show-stopping performance at his press conference. He needed to. The only echo of his normal stable of cliches was the use of "we will do everything in our power". He sounded confident, knowledgeable and avoided the usual rash of forced smiles.

Looking through the headline announcements, the most eye catching from my point of view is agreement on how to deal with the toxic assets held by many of our banks. I shall be interested to see the detail of that.

It is interesting to note that much has been made by Gordon Brown of increasing liquidity in the markets, but he seems not to have got his way on a gigantic financial stimulus. The German Finance Minister Peer Steinbruck told Sky News just now...

We are convinced that regaining trust and confidence on the financial markets is a clear pre-condition in order to unfold stimulus packages, and, up to now, we haven’t restored confidence and I’m not willing just to burn money, taxpayers’ money.
Good on him. More please.

Now let's see how the markets respond.

UPDATE: Guido is dismissive Brown's urging of the IMF to sell its gold stocks. Because that worked really well last time, didn't it?


Oliver Drew said...

The answer to your question yes. Brown is paving the way - with 24-carat gold paving!

You are right, he did put in a stellar performance - and he even sounded convincing for a change. This is his environment though - journalists not being particularly hard, not asking a lot about detail etc etc.

The problem is the financing - we can't afford this, we all know we can't. Some of the other countries cannot either. It makes me wonder if he is trying to pull the wool over our collective eyes...Germany and France seem to be relatively sensible. They will be fine. Us and America however...not so sure.

Another question - what gives Gordon Brown, and the G20 for that matter, the right to demand that nations change their rules on privacy in banking (re: tax havens)?

Wrinkled Weasel said...

Not so sure the markets are a good indicator of what is good for us. They may see it as just another opportunity to siphon off free money - money that will come from tax payers.

If not, where is all this sudden money coming from? Has the Red Sea Parted?

Man in a Shed said...

For a long time I've said the only choice for the country is between a Conservative government and the IMF running policy.

I assume Brown's scheme is to promise all sorts of stuff, smearing the do nothing Tories (and showing his Father never did manage to get Christian morals over to him) claiming they will sack every teacher, nurse Doctor and fluffy bunny in the universe, and win a snap election.

Then, when he has to call in the IMF a few months latter and implement the austerity he said the Tories would do blame it on the IMF and say he had no choice but to break his promises.

Brown is quite mad with power, however there are sane Labour MPs who should, even if its the last act in their political lives, put country before loyalty to Brown.

Doug said...

We will go the IMF for a handout unless the economy turns around pretty sharpish.

As for gold I would have thought the best time to sell gold is at or near the top of the market which is probably where gold is. Unless I misunderstood and Iain's criticism was actually about telegraphing the sale of gold which will inevitably depress the price.

Oldrightie said...

This has been on the cards after The IMF declared themselves short of dosh last Autumn. Gordo went round the world with his begging bowl pretending to be an IMF rep/spiv. His real need, to find yet more places daft enough to lend him money.

andanotherthing said...

However you feel about Brown. you have to give him credit for what was a successful summit. Probably the best thing, is to have got so many heads of state together talking, and the fact that Russia and the USA met and were nice to each other must bode well for the future.

Thatsnews said...

Oh, God. Let's hope they ignore him!

Eddie said...

I noted that Brown said it had been agreed that future appointments of leaders of the world organisations would be made on the merits of the candidate.

I assumed that was always the case - so what could be different?

Well normally the nominations are put forward by national governments - I don't suppose Cameron will be nominating Brown!

Could this future change be Brown ensuring he has an entry strategy to his next role, without having to be nominated?

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Your headline is either desperation or a desperate piece of spin.

Go and read (for example) Jessica Mortimer's summary for Reuters. It's not bright, happy morn again yet, but the indicators seem to suggest it's not all gloom and despond either. You belittle yourself in apocalyptic suggestion like this.

If all else fails, and you still cannot achieve reason, moderation and a bit of balance, go and lie down in a darkened room.

Iain Dale said...

Bloody hell, Malcolm, did you not read my post? I actually praised Brown for his performance. No pleasing some people. And I was quoting Paul Waugh, anyway on the IMF thing as I made clear.

Nick Thornsby said...

Re IMF gold.

The impression I got was that the gold had already previously been agreed to be sold, but that today they just agreed to redirect a proportion of the money this raises to poor countries.

Is that right?

Mike said...

And Dougie Alexander is spinning the same line:

Malcolm Redfellow said...

Yes, Iain @ 5.49 pm, I did read it.

I noted the discontinuity between the headline and some of the text. That was what I thought I was lamenting.

Then, I saw your post was timed at 4.46 p.m. The UK and European markets were already closed, and today's judgment was therefore in, when you published. That also was my point.

Despite a quarter-per-cent cut in the ECB (not the half-per-cent generally expected), sterling is up. Look at the trend on the BBC Business site: it's been on the up since mid-March (though not enough to make my Italian trip last week any cheaper). Look at the oil price -- over $50/barrel, and that's good news. The house price increase (surely predictable in Spring) is seen as another swallow returning to Capistrano.

That's all more significant than one day's headlines for Brown. Heaven knows he worked hard enough for them. And didn't the circus cost us the odd bob or two?

My gripe is not that, as a Tory, you are shouting "stinking fish": you are entitled to that conventional opposition resort. It is that things are moving on, and you seem caught with stale fishmongery well past its selling date. Time for a new marketing plan?

That's enough convoluted metaphors for one evening.

Alex said...

The $1.1 trillion package is mostly spin and a boosting of the IMF.

There is no fiscal stimulus and the $250 bilion measure to boost trade is simply an agreement to keep the current export credit agencies funded, just as they have been for decades.

Vacuous in the extreme.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Bloody gigantic figures today. Never thought we would end up counting money in parsecs.

subrosa said...

I haven't heard it yet Iain, but I don't suppose he paid tribute to the 16 men who died in the North Sea. You know the workers who make the billions to keep the UK and Gordon Brown looking like world players.

No matter what the man says I don't believe a word. I'd rather wait for the German morning papers, I'll get more truth there.

Mirtha Tidville said...

There are also many who believe the IMF would make a better fist of running our economy than Brown.

Lola said...

If (when) that bastard Brown goes off to the IMF on my behalf I want his head on a stick over the Tower. Blood and all.

Sobers said...

It'll be easy to see if we are headed for the IMF - watch the BBC output, especially Pesto, over the next year or so. If they start to mention the IMF regularly, and what it is doing in other countries, and how they are 'helping' them, then you know the masses are being softened up for the IMF visit. Just as they have been with talk of first 'recession', then 'depression' and currently 'deflation'.

Sometimes the fact that the BBC is the publicity arm of the Labour party can be useful to determine which way the wind is blowing.