First Person

An alarming déjà vu

By Allister Heath, July 28, 2011

All the signals are still flashing red in the Eurozone, despite the recent muddled attempt at a bailout. It is feeling more and more like the middle of 2008, when a major financial crisis was already upon us yet the authorities remained convinced that half-measures would be enough to avoid catastrophe.

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The coalition is failing to deliver

By Allister Heath, February 24, 2011

You wouldn't believe it if your only source of news was the BBC, but the number of jobs in Britain actually went up last year.

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Sorry, but it's time to put up interest rates

By Allister Heath, November 4, 2010

Borrowers won't thank me for saying this but it is time for the Bank of England to start hiking interest rates.

The economy is recovering at a break-neck speed, inflation is far too high and savers are being wiped out by ridiculously low rates of interest. Andrew Sentance, the one hawkish member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee (MPC), is spot on: we must start weaning ourselves off ultra-cheap money before we become truly addicted to it.

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Coalition presents a mixed business bag

By Allister Heath, May 21, 2010

Buy sterling, sell the euro: that was the rallying cry in the City as the news sunk in that the Tories and Lib Dems had formed a coalition.

A few weeks ago, most economists feared Britain was on the brink of a fiscal crisis; they are much more optimistic today, especially with both parties committed to a tough round of fiscal consolidation. As long as the coalition continues to send out the right signals, and that the emergency budget contains a plausible plan to slash the deficit, it will have the support of the financial markets.

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First Person: Time to worry about house prices

By Allister Heath, February 25, 2010

It is time to start worrying about house prices again. The recovery in the property market over the past year makes little sense and could soon go into reverse again. Mortgage lending fell by a third in January and all objective measures suggest that housing remains thoroughly overvalued. A double-dip in the property market is one of the greatest risks facing British consumers, investors and the banking system. The downturns of the early 1990s and mid-1970s triggered dramatic property slumps.

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Next year will be distinctly painful

By Allister Heath, December 29, 2009

Let us start with the good news: it is almost inconceivable that the British economy won’t fare better in 2010 than it did in 2009.

We have just come out of the most severe recession since the 1930s, with our economy shrinking drastically; I would hate to tempt fate but there is little that could be thrown at us in the coming year that would precipitate another such dramatic contraction. Growth is likely to make a return; in fact, the economy almost certainly started expanding again in the last few months of 2009.

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Darling, take an axe to public spending

By Allister Heath, December 9, 2009

If you want to know in just how big a mess we are in, do not bother wading through the Chancellor’s figures.

Instead, you should consult a fascinating report put out every six months by the OECD, a think-tank for all the rich countries.

Its latest Economic Outlook includes a prediction which nobody in Britain has picked up but which is extraordinarily important: in 2010, public spending will reach no less than 54.1 per cent of our economy.

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First Person: Don’t blame bonuses

By Allister Heath, October 15, 2009

Passion is always the enemy of reason. This is true in politics as in everything else, and helps to explain why we have all got so excited about cracking down on bankers’ bonuses. “Wait a second,” I hear you say: “Bonuses paid out to greedy City boys fuelled the boom and bust and should therefore be capped, right?” That, after all, is the new consensus in Westminster and a view that resonates with a public thirsty for revenge.

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There’s no need to break up the banks

By Allister Heath, July 23, 2009

A few weeks ago, the received wisdom was that a good way to ensure financial stability would be to forcibly separate investment banks from retail and commercial banks. There was also discussion about imposing limits on bank sizes. Yet the Labour Party in its White Paper and the Tories in George Osborne’s response have now largely rejected those ideas.

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First Person: Crunch time is to come

By Allister Heath, May 27, 2009

BELIEVE it or not but Alistair Darling may actually be right that the recession will be over by Christmas.

But before you start uncorking the champagne, it is important to realise that this doesn’t mean a return to the good days. Total 1930s-style catastrophe has been averted, partly by luck and partly as a result of governments flooding the economy with liquidity.

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