Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Weathercock Commentary of Anatole Kaletsky

It's not just Guardian columnists (cf Polly Toynbee, Jackie Ashley) who can't seem to make their minds up about Gordon Brown or the Conservatives. Let's take a look at the respected Times columnist Anatole Kaletsky's offerings this year. And let's play, spot the contradiction!

Cameron is right; Brown is wrong
“David Cameron, led the way in Britain yesterday with an impressive four-point programme of government guarantees, regulatory reforms and critically important accounting changes. It is hard to see why Gordon Brown should not embrace all these points. Similar policy changes are starting in other countries - most importantly in the US itself” (The Times, 1 October 2008).

Brown is right; Cameron is wrong
“A few weeks ago it seemed as if Britain - for all its economic problems and the manifest political inadequacy of Gordon Brown - at least had a competent Opposition that would one day form a credible alternative government. Now the tables have turned. The good news for the world economy is that Mr Brown has become a leader of global stature, filling the policy vacuum created by the clueless dithering of the Bush Administration and the surprising failure of Barack Obama to step into the breach. The bad news for Britain is that the Tories have chosen this moment to self-destruct, leaving no plausible alternative to Labour” (The Times, 20 November 2008).

Brown is wrong
“Mr Brown has chosen exactly the opposite course to the one that might have restored his political credibility. Accordingly, he has been written off even by his erstwhile supporters, among whom I would have included myself until this year” (The Times, 10 July 2008).

“Britain has missed a crucially important issue by failing to remove the lethal distortions in regulation and accounting that were have been largely responsible for the boom and bust. Gordon Brown has also been overly punitive to bank shareholders and his terms will have to be relaxed to avoid unnecessary damage to what is still the country's most important industry” (The Times, 16 October 2008).

Brown is right
“With Euroland now in deep recession and the pound back to the low that triggered a strong economic rebound in 1995, market sentiment may well swing against the euro and in favour of sterling as investors conclude that eurozone policymakers are doing too little, too late, while Mr Brown and the MPC are laying the foundations for economic recovery in Britain” (The Times, 17 November 2008).

We need to avoid a Japan-style recession
“there are far more urgent items on the political and economic agenda. The first is how to prevent the recession made inevitable by this meltdown becoming a Japanese-style “lost decade” of economic stagnation and falling prices” (The Times, 16 October 2008).

Britain should follow Japan’s lead
“An interest rate of 1 per cent may be far outside the experience of anyone living in Britain today, but then the same is true of the banking crisis. Gordon Brown was the first to recognise that these unprecedented events demanded unprecedented responses and this is as true of monetary policy as it is of government support for banks. It follows, therefore, that Britain should adopt the ultra-low interest rate regime that is taken for granted in the US and Japan. And the Japanese experience of the 1990s shows that central bankers must be prepared to “think the unthinkable” about interest rates sooner rather than later, if they want to avert disaster” (The Times, 20 October 2008).

Britain is more vulnerable than any other major economy
“Conventional wisdom asserts that after a decade of profligate self-delusion, Britain has reverted to its traditional position as the sick man of Europe; indeed, that Britain is one of the sickest economies in the world. Regular readers of this column should be familiar with certain aspects of this view. Although I initially underestimated the depth and duration of the global credit crunch, I have argued throughout the past 12 months that Britain would be more vulnerable than the United States or any other big economy to whatever global financial problems did emerge” (The Times, 25 August 2008).

Britain is going to be fine
“The dithering incompetence of Henry Paulson has, by force of contrast, restored the credibility of Gordon Brown, both as Prime Minister and as an international leader. The UK economy, which had previously looked more vulnerable to the global recession than any other G7 country, is now likely to suffer less than the rest of Europe, as a result of unprecedented policy stimulus from the lowest interest rates in history, a super-competitive currency and a big reduction in tax” (The Times, 17 November 2008).

The Tories are great
“at the risk of appearing naive and biased, let me suggest that some of the Tories’ policies stand up to scrutiny and make a lot of sense … Mr Cameron seems to have understood that developing policies for a complex modern society requires a synthesis of ideas from different parts of the ideological spectrum. Politics is not just a matter of inventing slogans to try to impress tabloid editors - that is the failed politics of Gordon Brown” (The Times, 10 July 2008).

The Tories are terrible
“the Tories have not only disqualified themselves from any serious role in dealing with the present financial crisis. They have also put themselves on the wrong side of history” (The Times, 17 November 2008).

Mr Consistency, he ain't.


Old Holborn said...

~Breaking News

Baby P report will NOT be published

Anonymous said...

He's just changed his mind. Look at the dates. Old comments - Brown Villan, Cameron Hero. Recent comments - Brown Hero, Cameron Villan.

ascotinlessables said...

So what's new?

John M Ward said...

Why is he "respected", I wonder? I haven't been at all impressed with his writing on the whole.

John Woodman said...

Could it be, as another economist suggested should be the case, that as the facts change so do his opinions?

Despite having been involved in a party which has created very serious problems for the UK and its economy, Brown has done some smart things in the last few weeks. It looks as though he is about to do some bad things as well - but he has got a grip on affairs: think back to 5/6 weeks ago.

Having lead the Tories to set a good agenda for Britain, the one weak area - the lack of a consistent and coherent economic policy - is starting to hit Cameron's performance.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. No he's not been consistent but if you actually read the comments (and I admit I didn't read every single one) it looks like he has justified his change of opinion on several occasions. Including admitting he initially misread the scale of the crisis.

So is this all a criticism of AK or a celebration of him not sticking dogmatically to his initial opinions?

Anonymous said...

Iain - the point is?

David Cameron seems determinded to go down the same route as John McCain - and it will lead to failure.

Next thing we'll hear is that Cameron and the Tories are bringing in Joe the plumber to talk about taxes.

Why is Cameron throwing away 3 years of good work to lurch to the right? We all know it's a LOSING idea.

Where are the new ideas?

oh dear....

It's not looking good for Cameron....

He needs to get a grip and get centred.

Anonymous said...

determined too

Anonymous said...


Good disection of the Socialist sympathiser!

Hacked Off said...

Like all the media commentariat he blows hot and cold at the drop of a free lunch. As for being an economist, well we know what they are. "A person who is supposedly very clever with numbers but has not got sufficient personality to be an accountant"

The Penguin

Anonymous said...


Which proves the media's willing compliance to spin and manipulation over and above factual, investigative jouralism.

In the process, Nulabor remains dishonestly self serving whilst the Opposition focusses 'the job in hand'- addressing the historically catastrophic results.

Anonymous said...

I know economics is not a "precise science" but Kaletsky abuses that definition and was recently lambasted in Privare Eye for being a perfect reverse indicator.

On that basis his recent criticism of Cameron is in fact a positive development...let us hope he does not change his mind again too soon.

Anonymous said...


Which proves the media's willing compliance to spin and manipulation over and above factual, investigative jouralism.

In the process, Nulabor remains dishonestly self serving whilst the Opposition focusses 'the job in hand'- addressing the historically catastrophic results.

Anonymous said...

If Barack Obama is going to rebrand America - then why can't David Cameron rebrand the Conservative Party? Why isn't he getting it right? Where the hell is Steve Hilton when you need him? Oh yeah - hanging with Arnie.

DC has managed to remind the entire country this month of all the reasons why the Tories have been out of power for a decade.

Will someone please tell DC that there is no such thing as small government anyomore? Times have changed. His lurch to the right is SO out of touch with popular opinion. The Tories have pretty much lost the next election unless DC gets his mojo back - and he needs to get it back soon.

Anonymous said...

You shoul go back even further for serious tosh.

Kaletsky is a clueless idiot.

strapworld said...

Isn't this what they call 'writing to the editors demand' not conviction journalism?

Anonymous said...

Hee hee. Very amusing Iain. Of course, they are all separated by some considerable time and events, dear boy, events. But much of this is old ground to Private Eye readers - the Eye has been featuring Kaletsky's ramblings and ever-shifting sands for quite a while. His alleged competence in economic matters has been a particular source of amusement in Eye circles.

Kaletsky's main value is as a weather vane to see which way Murdoch is currently pointing.

JohnofEnfield said...

I am afraid Kaletsky lost my attention when he changed his mind several times during the second phase of the banking crisis. I used to find his analysis invigorating & forcefully put, but his wild excursions over the critical fortnight mean that I now no longer read him.

John of Enfield

Savonarola said...

Kaletsky is third rate. Always has been. Go back over the decade and read his forecasts. Taking the opposite view you would make money. He is not even worth fisking.

For informed commentary read Roger Bootle.

Anonymous said...

So now you've seen which way the wind is blowing, what should Cameron do?

Anonymous said...

He is a bit vulnerable. I have archived the web page of an article he wrote in March saying that there would be a mere blip in the UK economy and it would be no problem. I posted that I'd saved the page to mail to him in a year's time, but sadly, I couldn't get the comments to save as well.

Anonymous said...

Anatole is the most useless columnist I have read in the Times. He changes his position so often that, he himself cant remember where he stand.For God sake get rid of this joker, Rupert...