Britannia Unchained 0, Anti Growth Coalition 1 and counting

Well, the last post didn’t age well, did it? Slightly better than fresh fish, worse than a piece of cheese, the lettuce is out for the count. No idea if this one will be relevant tomorrow, either. Events, dear boy, events1

It wasn’t really meant to turn out this way. Good old Krazi Kwarteng was out there, implementing the Trusster’s Britannia Unchained Manifesto with vim and Etonian self-confidence.

Overlooking the first rule of right-wing thinktanks the world over, which is fulminating generally that governments don’t have their own money Krazy Kwasi decided to slow the inflow at the top of the tank by cutting tax, without saying how he was going to reduce the outflow at the bottom in the form of cuts. Apparently all those less taxed higher earners were going to do a jolly hockey-sticks investing and spending splurge which increases growth and make up the difference automagically. Exactly how, Kwasi left as an exercise for the reader.

That included all the people who normally lend money to the UK, who asked themselves

How many times in the last few outings of the trickle-down theory has it actually worked, because we’re on the hook for the extra lending to fill up the tank if it doesn’t?

When you ask a wingnut what it believes, it will say one thing. But when you ask wingnuts with money to pony up, you realise that when it comes to their own money, they don’t believe everything they say. That’s for little people. In particular, it seems that supply-side economics was considered so off the wall at this time that they demanded a moron risk premium to invest in a submerging market.

Not only did Krazy Kwasi not want to show his own working, but he was damn well not going to let anybody in the know comment for several weeks. Instead, he produced word salad

“We are confident in our long-term strategy to drive economic growth through tax cuts and supply-side reform.
“Supply-side reforms are critical — increasing capacity brings down prices.
“Cabinet ministers will set out more supply-side measures over coming weeks to make meaningful change. Right across Government, departments have to be focussed on this.
“We are committed to fiscal discipline, and won’t re-open the spending review. We have a medium term fiscal plan coming on 23 November, alongside an OBR forecast. That will be a credible plan to get debt to GDP falling.”

Which is all very well, but can be summarised as Trust Me, I’m Kwasi, and for some reason that didn’t wash. It got him sacked for culpable incompetence and his boss into rather hot water. The wrong sort of clever, apparently, Cambridge failed to introduce Crazy Kwasi to Socrates. Or Icarus…

His replacement canned the entire Britannia Unchained budget, save some minor bits and the cap on bankers’ salaries. Oddly enough I am all for that. It will no doubt lead us into deep trouble at some future point, because it rewards risk taking but limits the downside to losing your job, now that debtor’s prisons are no longer a thing. However, making money out of money is one of the few things modern Britain is/was good at, so the moral hazard is probably worth it in the round.

Nobody was able to find a way to make the great Britannia Unchained project fly. So now we have Austerity 2.0, and somehow the guy who came last in the Tory leadership election is in charge, because he has a better bedside manner than Krazy Kwasi or the current incumbent of No 10. He’s also got a basic grasp of arithmetic. I always like that in a chancellor.

Let’s look on the bright side. At least the British Army isn’t in charge and on the BBC telling us all to stay indoors. The Tories seem to be doing their best not to let our Dear Leader open her trap, however, on the grounds that the economy cannae take another hit of Britannia Unchained gobshite.

Something that puzzled me about the Britannia Unchained agenda was that Dear Liz monstered those cynical of the whole trickle-down agenda as the anti-growth coalition which has spawned some great memes. Let’s ask ourselves what is the biggest anti-growth coalition of recent times? There’s a clue in that Trussonomics is about the supply side. So what did the BoE say about supply-side then

Brexit is a supply shock — that’s not a value judgment on Brexit, it’s an economic fact.

Hmm, obviously we’ve had enough of experts on that subject round here, but what effect did that have, now the results are in?

Put it this way, in 2016 the British economy was 90 per cent the size of Germany’s. Now it is less than 70 per cent.

Whoops. So who is the biggest agent of the Anti-Growth Coalition? Brexiters, bless ’em, and the current muppets in charge have been specifically selected for saying Brexit is A Good Thing. As Carney said, it’s not a value judgement on Brexit, if you are rich enough, you may well conclude that a > 20% fall in the size of the economy against a comparable European country is a price well worth paying to get control of your own destiny. If you are a low earner subject to the winds of competition from EU immigration you may be making a perfectly rational call that your end of the boat is fine. But it does seem a bit rich to be moaning about the anti-growth coalition faced with such full-throated support of a growth epic fail of that magnitude. You wouldn’t start from here if you want to get there.

Anyway, the Anti Growth coalition rode into town as the cavalry to save La Truss from herself, in the gnomic form of Jeremy Austerity 2.0 Hunt, busting the ass of the tax cuts, promising rises in other areas, Taking Back Control of stuff already promised to people like the energy price cap and the triple lock.

Apparently La Truss and stablemate Kwasi made some mistakes. No shit Sherlock. They got it all pretty much 100% wrong. Your mortgage will be dearer, if you want anything done by the government it will be greatly impaired because The Axeman Cometh, and the much-vaunted energy price cap will be filleted, so better start putting pound coins in the jamjar right away. Wingnuts are already rewriting history to say it was the  bailouts energy price guarantee wot did it, presumably soon to be followed by ‘Britannia Unchained was right all along‘. Inquiring minds would like to know how other European countries managed the trick in similar ventures, for the moment at least.

Apologists for this crew will no doubt say that interest rates and energy prices are going up across the developed world, so suck it up, proles. Nevertheless, the question has to be asked, given that you are now getting tax rises and spending cuts how could they have got it so wrong that such a full-spectrum reverse ferret is required? Surely there must be some suspicion that Liz Truss’s grasp on the reality of what she could do is a few bricks short of a full load?

  1. There’s something disturbing that this was referenced by the head honcho of the Environment Agency, following up with “Get the tone right: calm, authoritative, empathetic, commitment to do what’s needed.” So how comes there’s shit in our waterways again and again? The common element? Liz Truss. The force of competence is not strong in this one, it would seem. 

32 thoughts on “Britannia Unchained 0, Anti Growth Coalition 1 and counting”

    1. Shucks. Actually I bought ^GSPX despite the first order berlercking of “Don’t currency hedge your portfolio” delivered by Finimus, of the Monevator crew. I was up £6.50 midday, though I am down £3.70 at the mo. Out of about £3k 😉 I absolutely take Finimus’ point, but this is a small punt. I believe the loss is more the SPX going dow t’pan than the Great British Shitcoin. I’ve been reading some US commentators on the stock market and you guys aren’t feeling chipper. Shame valuations are still in the highish range historically, let’s hope the tech darlings are humongously scaleable so can bear higher valuations doctrine is true 😉

      So I feel your pain, in a teeny way 😉 As well as in a whopping straight-between-the eyes way because these clowns are in charge of my cash, in a drain-circling sort of way…


  1. Co-incidentally I looked on your blog earlier today to see if you had posted anything about the latest calamitous shenanigans, glad to see your latest musings on this rantum-scantum of a Government.
    Unbelievable the billions these buffoons have cost the country and feel desperately sorry for all those, who will be the victims of not only massive mortgage interest rate rises, as well as their austerity cuts. Unfortunately it will be those who can least afford it who will be worse affected.
    Find it incredible to believe that anyone can think Brexit has or will be successful. The only way is down I fear unless you are one of the wealthiest, in which case you will be getting richer.
    Oh well at least it has made me take up meditation and exercise more to distract me from the dire state of the UK. Though think it is on my mind that I won’t be able to rely on the NHS in future years so need to get as healthy as possible.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. > The only way is down I fear unless you are one of the wealthiest, in which case you will be getting richer.

      Although there’s some risk of going down the rabbit-hole, I could see how that might be defined as success in some quarters… 😉

      Having said that, I do wonder if in long years to come, preferably after we have learned to talk more civilly to our neighbours, we may come to be grateful to the Brexit project for getting us off the hook when some centrifugal forces show up. There be much ruin and contradiction in some parts of the EU project. As a common market/single market I think the project was/is grand. The Single currency gives me the willies because of some of the internal contradictions and hand-waving when it was inaugurated, and I am not absolutely sure there’s enough common cause in the enlarged EU for some of the political aims. That might have worked for a cosy club of north-west European countries .

      However, this isn’t our issue any more. And we seem perfectly capable of making a right pig’s ear of things all by ourselves, so we don’t really get to strut our stuff as an example of success, I wonder when the UK will pick up the old crown of being ‘the sick man of Europe’ again

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “Put it this way, in 2016 the British economy was 90 per cent the size of Germany’s. Now it is less than 70 per cent.”

    I got my knuckles rapped for quoting this (I saw it btl in the FT and didn’t bother to check it out) and also saw Marina Hyde in the Graun quoting the same figures today.

    However my critic gave the following figures and link. I did check out the GDP numbers given, and they seem to roughly tally… this equates to a fall of 6% against Germany’s GDP rather than 20%+. Perhaps I’m missing something?

    UK GDP – $2.7tn
    Germany GDP – $3.4tn
    UK 79% of Germany

    UK GDP – $3.1tn
    Germany GDP – $4.2tn
    UK 73% of Germany.

    On something of a tangent, that’s a fairly weird image at the top, which appears to be shot in Japan? I recognise tatami when I see it…

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The CIA lists the current ratio as 4.2:2.8 (= 70%) and I took Mark Carney at face value. But I take the point that this may be open to doubt, particularly if the sampling point is not the same time in the year which could be the source of the discrepancy with the CIA factbook, by inspection of the graph in your link, combined with the rapid rate of change coming out of Covid.

      I found it hard to control the period on your link, the comparison with the Eurozone is intriguing, but without being able to normalise the chart to 2016 and rescale it’s hard to qualify accurately.

      The image is that of a ferret reversing 😉 I hadn’t spotted the term reverse ferret is peculiarly British, the temptation to run a mustelid was too much to resist.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Seeing your update I’m wondering what direction this thing is going to take next! It feels like we’re now on the Sunak plan but with Truss as PM?

    I read that Truss has a net worth of something like £8m, at 47 she could have retired early on that and spared us all this fiasco. What is it with these people, do they have to exercise their egos on the rest of us for kicks or what? With that amount of stash they could have run her economics experiments on some minions in a computer sim instead of screwing around with us all. I don’t think I will be feeling sorry for Truss!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Indeed, where to from here? No one has the stomach for another 3 month leadership election so Rishi can claim the throne, but it’s gotta happen before the next general election – which the party doesn’t want to call early for obvious reasons – so, when? Lame duck PM for another year? Good grief.

      Ermine: killer gif, lol.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. If you cannot manage a crisis-the crisis will manage you!
        QE etc “ managed “ one crisis but reserves are never built up for the next one in the good times
        It seems to be the default human condition is always to live right up to the wire and then take the pain as the necessary painful correction is administered by external forces out with our (leaders ) control
        The correction is therefore rough and savage but it works
        Perhaps human behaviour will change but this has been happening for a long time so I doubt it !

        Liked by 1 person

      1. I tried to second-source this claim but draw a blank repeatedly, Google was most definitely not my friend. Even the Evening Standard cited that bastion of reporting, wait for it, drum roll,

        According to Money Transfers, Liz Truss is worth £8.4 million.

        Along with everybody else who seemed to thing MoneyTransfers is who dunnit, though I failed to trace the original Money Transfers article, which anyway I would credit with the same sort of veracity as, say, anything that comes out of the mouth of Boris Johnson.

        So I would stick Liz Truss’s networth in the Rumsfeldian epistemology category of known unknown although the £8m is being treated as a know known.

        It all makes you despair for the intellectual capability of the Fourth Estate. Out for the count, titsup, wibbling randomly.

        Let’s hear it from my rapidly wilting copy of Britannia Unchained, a misallocation of captial if ever there was one, I wonder if Amazon would give me a refund, because they failed to classify it as fiction.

        To get ahead in the new type of jobs you need to be able to reason and think logically.

        Quite. His Majesty’s Press seems to be short in this department too. In many ways Britannia Unchained was on the money as to the problems we face. It was the solutions that failed to stand up to the harsh light of experimental verification.


  4. Yup, funny how no matter what the Tories manifesto promises, like a gripping thriller, there’s always at least one great twist at the end and then it’s somehow austerity for everyone except them again. The new, real, piper, Jezza ‘H’unt, (also Unelected) is currently trying to pull off some political alchemy in converting base lies to gold by resurrecting Osborn austerity. But too soon? Gotta admire the chutzpah, on the extra, added gratuitous cruelty though! I see what he did there on his version, first they came for the poor/immigrants/defenseless. Similarly, somehow the electorate seem oblivious to this pattern, or more creepily, they wont admit to themselves that they actually enjoy the pain, so moan a bit in public, but come election time, the pavlovian response kicks in, they obediently don their gimpsuits and eagerly scurry off for another 5 year thrashing. Seems like the proletariat don’t have to go to eye-wateringly expensive private institutions to pick up some of the, shall we say ‘eccentric quirks’, who knew ?

    Over the years, I’ve experimented with trickle down economics, on a necessarily modest scale using cats instead of poor people in a nod to claiming the moral high ground with respect to ethics vs our honourable ruling caste. In these trials which are as rigorously scientific as the regulations allow the pharma-industrial-complex currently, massively overfeeding my cats has never resulted in them becoming more generous to other, less-fortunate cats. These ranged from those whose owners gave them only a limited amount of supermarket own-brand offal to hunter-scavenger strays and I can now give you the exclusive results right here on this very site for the first time publically shared.

    The cats mainly got fat ! Yes, really. They also chased off any competition, feline or not, rather than share, even killing anything they were able to if their reduced athleticism allowed, whether edible or not. I accept of course that critics of this methodology will point out that what happens with cats may not be relevant to human behaviour, despite the parallels of a generally high level of selfishness, entitlement and narcissism. I can’t speak for mustelids, but make of that what you will.


      1. Sir is too kind in complementing my citizen-science efforts, but I am too unconfident to submit them for peer review, given my lack of elite ‘educational’ institutional experience, due to having somehow eluded the clutches of Oxbridge, Eton et al during my nil-lustrious career to date.

        I don’t know if you saw the image of Jezza ‘unt on the Tory front bench yesterday*, but the extent of his smile lit up the room, it seems safe to say he was battling to control his delight. (*warning, once seen it can’t be easily forgotten and may cause flashbacks and other trauma)
        Obviously, I can’t read his mind, it could simply have been down to being overwhelmed with gratitude at again being so close to the public resource trough combined with imagining the future corporate boards he could enrich himself on.

        But via the angle I had access to, he was sandwiched tightly between Trussed and Penny Mordor, so given his informal role as ventriloquist to the PM and the fact that his hands weren’t in view and being spoiled for dummies, well there are options.


  5. Poor old Kwasi, threw under a bus and no hope of getting an NHS appointment to prise the knives from his back.
    Truss turned into a puppet with Hunt the puppet master. Country going through a bad patch just now.
    We live in strange times.
    Looking across the house for an alternative doesn’t fill me with much hope either.
    My advice? Batten down the hatches, and buy the best shovel you can because it’s going to take a while to dig ourselves out of this shit storm.


  6. Great comment, I wondered if you would post something about this shit storm.
    We just don’t have any decent leaders to choose from and we just seem to lurch from one disaster to another. Which puts us in a terrible position, the façade is dropping away to expose the real situation. We could do with more than just the two party options which just sway us from one extreme to the other with no real positive move forward.

    The common market agreement with the EU was good for the UK from what I saw. We were hosts for companies that used us as an import route to the EU and now we have left all those business are moving elsewhere. My last employer was muting moving their head office to France due to this. We can see this with what is left of the motor industry.

    We only seem to have Finance services to sell to the rest of the world now (?) and with other countries providing better competition I can’t see the UK winning them over easily. Uncapped banker’s bonuses or not.

    I just hear non UK citizens say how expensive the UK is and what poor value. This cost of living crisis will just make us more so as more people get dragged below the poverty lines. Who will want to live here with such high costs and little growth opportunity or incentive.

    Happy for someone to come up with some ideas to solve this as I am no expert.
    Like others, I will just batten down the hatches and see how the storm evolves.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The two party option hasn’t done us any favours, neither did Brexit. The continual cutting of funding to public sector services has resulted in them not being fit for purpose. Nhs in crisis, care in crisis. The wonderful dedicated people that work in these organisations undervalued and underpaid. Country held to ransom over energy. Everything worth making a buck on that was nationalised sold off.
      We are getting to the point where pensions in my opinion will be means tested or the retirement age raised to the point where most of the potential recipients will never see it. Health insurance for all could well become a reality.
      Working family’s needing to use food banks. Jesus, we live in the 21st century.
      Take a look at Norway. Sovereign fund from their North Sea assets topping one trillion dollars. Where’s our sovereign fund?
      I live in Scotland and in my humble opinion, the way things are going they’ve handed wee Jimmy Krankie independence on a plate.
      As I said, we live in strange times.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. The Lettuce is up for it? Looking good

      in Lizzy’s valedictory declaration – “I came into office at a time of great economic uncertainty”

      and made it one hell of a lot worse by trying to run Britannia Unchained?

      I think it’s Britannia Unchained -1. Let us hope that for God’s sake we don’t end up with the serial liar and moral vacuum that was formerly in post

      Liked by 2 people

      1. > PMs can this country break…

        Sadly we haven’t really had a chance as a country. How many PMs can the Tories break 😉 That is not one party, it’s a bunch of fighting rats in a sack, vicious blighters that share no common cause . That’s about the only hope the rest of us have, really. Rats are gonna rat.

        The Torygraph tells us that Bozza is going to stand, and the lunatic fringe of Kemi Badenoch and Suella Braverman are also up for it. The talent pool has been drained…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Salad days not quite over Bill. Your PM of 6 weeks will be getting a 115k per year pension for life for all the work she just did. Why, using the 4% rule, that’s equivalent to an invested lump sum of 2.87M. On top of her already 8M net worth. A tasty salad if I may say so!


  7. So, who’s the next unelected puppet? Pick your favourite clown. This’s Ukip’s debutant ball now, coming out of the Tory closet in a blaze of chaos, confirming to even those who refuse to accept it, that this is taking back control, sovereignty etc., well they’ve got the world’s attention now and we finally know what brexit means, lettuce pray for our sins because for sure we’re paying now. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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