BUDGET DAY: Funny Money gets its hour in the sun

With his usual impeccable timing, George Osborne joins Twitter today. Given that he tweets rather than speaks when presenting to the Commons, this is probably entirely appropriate. I went to his twitter page this morning (desperate for words of wisdom about black hookers and white powder) but what I got was an internal server error. I wonder if this is some kind of metaphorical preface to today’s Budget. The Telegraph’s talented enfant terrible Ed West tweeted to say how mean and pathetic is is to tweet politicians with insults. On balance I’d agree, mainly on the principle that it just isn’t on to abuse the disabled.

I’m not really interest in what George will do, because there’s nothing he can do. So instead I’d like to survey the highly variable levels of IQ out there in the MSM when it comes to the context of the Budget.

We start with a corker of denialist optimism from Bill Dodwell of Deloittes:

‘Sluggish growth is keeping public spending up and tax revenues down. Many economists expect the deficit in 2012-13 will be similar to, or higher, than in 2011-12. For the wider economy the worst is probably past. The Office of Budget Responsibility and most other independent forecasters expect the economy to grow modestly in 2013-14.’

Two observations here: I see only ‘narrow’ in the UK economy. Where and what is this ‘wider’ thing? And second, if the OBR and most forecasters are expecting modest growth, is this another case of the past being a very good guide to the future? Only, they were wrong before, right?

Paul Johnson, director of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, was probably nearer the mark when he said, “Yesterday’s announcement that Whitehall spending was being cut by £2.5bn, with much of the money going on capital spending, will have a minimal impact on growth.T hough it is part of a trend, over the last budget, the last autumn statement, each one is making a billion or two available [for capital projects]. Putting all of that together might just about begin to get you into the territory where you can actually measure a change.”

Mind you, Johnson doesn’t think Balls Borrowing Bonanza Bash would work any better.

Josephine Moulds in the Guardian notes – quite correctly – ‘the amount the government needs to borrow to cover the gap between tax revenue and spending is going up, despite [Osborne’s] express desire to bring it down. Ernst & Young’s Item club forecasts net borrowing of £88bn this year, up from the £80bn predicted in the autumn statement.’

This is called sticking to your gun, because the firearms cupboard is empty.

‘The latest manufacturing PMI reading showed a surprise contraction for the month of February,’ writes Chris Beauchamp at IGIndex. I long ago found it impossible to take seriously any economic commentator calling contraction a surprise, so if I may I’ll draw a thick veil across that analysis, beyond showing this one further quote from Chris’s piece to cement my point that he may well be an unmitigated f**kwit:

‘….the latest revision to the final 2012 figures shows a contraction of 0.3% for the final three months of 2012. The one positive was that economic growth for the whole of 2012 was revised up to 0.2% from 0%, with the Olympic Games providing an overall boost….’

No Chris, this isn’t a ‘positive’ chuck, it means that the trend is going the wrong way: ‘later’ follows ‘before’ in our universe, so the extrapolation has to be that things were better before, then got worse later. Um, perhaps the lack of Olympics II in the last quarter had something to do with it. 

The Times meanwhile is in fine Camerlot-bashing form – this despite the fact that Dave gave Roop everything he wanted in the kill bloggers press regulation Bill to not actually really regulate anything except Roop’s enemies. Thus Big T tells Osborne he has no room for movement, and then suggests the various rooms he could go to….having first said there should be no turning back. It’s called Confuseatwat, and nobody is better at this game than The Times:

‘No turning back. And no rabbits from hats. The Chancellor cannot afford any bold or tricksy stunts when deficit reduction is the only course to pursue. The Chancellor must demonstrate how he will create incentives to get Britain’s businesses to invest. America’s growth is better than Britain’s, thanks to superior bank reform, business lending and monetary policies.’

So just to sum up re this one, cut deep, nothing tricksy, create incentives, and continue moneterist policies that do not believe State incentives are ever necessary in order to be like America which of course is tickerty but not entirely boo, and dory without much evidence of being hunky. And let’s set up America as the guiding light, despite (1) their 15 trillion dollar deficit and (2) the fact that we already said their banking and lending is working, whereas ours isn’t.

Right, we’ll do that then. Or as Ken Clarke puts it later in the paper, “We’ll have to cross our fingers”. You have to hand it to Suede Shoes Man, he tells it like it is.

Finally, the BBC informs us that Osborne wants to help “those who want to work hard and get on”.

Such as, for example, the thousands of SMEs defrauded by the bank his Treasury owns, RBS. Or those working shorter hours for less money because this is the only way Friedmanite bollocks can ‘work’. Or Bob Diamond, the man who manipulated Libor and then got on a plane to somewhere, as opposed to a small coach to Wandsworth Prison. Or those who’d like to get back to work, but can’t get a cure or will have to wait for an operation because Jeremy Hunt wants to sell the NHS.

Sorry, foot a little too heavy on the sarcasm pedal there, sorry. Won’t let it happen again. To close, I’ll make some conclusive comments:

* The EU and the eurozone are falling part.

* The world debt is thirty times more than GDP.

* Europe is flatlining, China is slowing down rapidly, and O’Drama is struggling to make a US economic struggle look like a recovery.

* The Coalition has done sweet dipperdy doo to diversify the UK economy, which remains hopelessly overdependent on a banking sector that may well soon collapse across the Globe.

* Osborne has been pummelling away at austerity for nearly three years, and in terms of deficit we are going backwards…for four reasons: entrepreneurs are being starved, our exports are crap, our civil servants have undermined every attempt at savings, and the economic world torpedoed by neocon globalist banking is descending down to the seabed.

The real people of Britain don’t give a crap about the Budget, or indeed any of the Parties engaged as I write in the weekly Balloonatic Hooligan Show from Westminster. The world doesn’t give a crap about the UK Budget because we are too small to matter any more. And I don’t give a crap about the Budget because it cannot possibly make any discernible difference to our future whatsoever.

Instead, I am going to focus this afternoon on Rocks Lane and Cyprus. I’m going to look for evidence of anything happening in Operation Ferndown, and how the Americans, Israelis, Turks and Greeks might react to a strategic base in the Med on the verge of becoming a Moscow satellite.

Later, I may cut some grass and play with my granddaughter. Or wire up a central light in the kitchen. Or simply have a beer, followed by a nap.

A bientot.

Earlier at The Slog: Brussels offers Cyprus help, Cyprus in Moscow getting help