Wednesday, 12 November 2008

Freude, schöner Götterfunken

So, Barack Obama has won the US presidential election. I really tried to distance myself from the coverage of the campaign; the constant barrage was turning into overload as election day approached. However, I did wake up at around 5am and flicked on the TV just to see if the result was in yet. I turned on just in time to see Obama give his speech live from Chicago. Much as I’d tried to avoid the election I did actually feel quite an emotional sense of relief that he won.

Of course, one man can’t change the world. But Barack Obama is just what America, and the world, needs right now. A good friend of mine said at the weekend that Barack Obama gives Americans the chance to be proud of being American again – without the need to add “sorry about our president” as a post-script. There really does seem to be a tangible sense of optimism spreading out from the election result.

I think the first benefit of Obama having won is the fact that George W is effectively prevented from doing anything stupid for the remainder of his term of office!

The second benefit, of course, is that Sarah Palin (the scariest woman in the world – she is utterly terrifying!) will not get to inflict her ridiculous, right-wing nonsense on anyone for a while at least. If you’re interested in how scary she is, a quick Google of her political positions will (hopefully) scare the living daylights out of you. A little bit of Googling does reveal her true colours. Go on, have a read. It’ll give you nightmares.

Of course, I’m making an assumption that everyone reading this is a left-wing liberal. Well, given that readership of this blog is likely to be “me and me alone” I’m pretty safe in my assumption I think.

Whilst on the subject of politics (though I’d personally like to think that the question of whether to vote for Sarah Palin would be a question of ethics rather than politics) I do wish the papers would stop their “harbinger of doom” approach to the economic crisis. Yes, we know the economy is in negative growth (I refuse to use the “r” word, even though strictly that’s what negative growth is) but at the heart of the problems we’re seeing is a lack of confidence. A lack of confidence between banks (i.e. they won’t lend money to each other, just in case things go wrong in the few days it takes for the cheque to clear...) and a lack of confidence in consumers. The government in the UK (who I rarely defend) are spending a lot of money (that’s true, the papers have that bit right – though they’re not spending as much as the papers claim...) to try to get the economy moving again. I would suspect that most of the people behind the half-arsed attempts at economic journalism in the tabloids haven’t heard of Keynes – but I would suggest that they go and buy a book and do some reading.

Of course, Keynesian economic theory is just that – it’s a theory – and I’m nowhere near versed enough in economics to launch into a debate on the merits of a Keynesian approach to reversing a period negative growth (avoided it again!) but I’d be interested to read such a debate. But that’s not the point. The point is that Gordon Brown may not be a fantastic orator, or indeed a great Prime Minister, but he does know his way around an economics textbook, and whilst some eminent economists (Alan Greenspan, for instance) would probably disagree on the reliance upon Keynesian methods, the way the government is behaving is based on economic theory and isn’t just the willy-nilly writing of cheques that the tabloids seem to be describing it as.

1 comment:


    Interesting podcasts with names in economics, often covering topical issues. Not listened to this one yet:

    Great to wash up to. :-)