Book Monitor: Beyond the Crash

In: Uncategorized

8 Dec 2010

Judging by the two extracts in the Guardian (here and here ) the new book from Gordon Brown, until recently Britain’s prime minister, is classic growth scepticism. On the one hand, Beyond the Crash talks effusively about the need for economic growth. On the other hand his support for growth is highly conditional and his conception of how it can be achieved is limited.

His main plan for achieving greater prosperity is what he calls a “global growth compact”. By this he seems to mean cooperation between the main economic powers in financial regulation as well as promoting supply and demand. Implicitly – although he does not say so openly – this compact should be able to put pressure on countries to pursue its favoured policies. He also says that the world’s economic problems are “structural” and they need to be tackled by “major surgery”.

Despite this apparent bullishness his acute anxiety about the potentially destabilising effects of growth is evident in numerous subtle ways. He is for sustainability (a coded way of supporting limits), supports “imposed discipline” and is acutely worried about the potential for inflation (often a coded way for saying growth could proceed too fast). Blaming financial institutions for the crisis also has the effect of avoiding, or at least downplaying, of any proper discussion of the weakness of the productive economy.

I suspect his doubts about growth are even more apparent in the book as a whole.