Thursday, September 17, 2009
Vince Cable, Eric Ravilious and the Bowstring Bridge
After work this evening I went to hear Vince Cable give a public lecture at Leicester University. The audience was a good mixture of academics, students and local Liberal Democrats.
Speaking to the title "Is the Economic Crisis Over?", Vince gave his analysis of the causes of our current problems. They were the complexity of the financial instruments that the banks developed, the imbalance in the global economy (with high levels of savings in China and low levels in the West) and government complacency.
He went on to say that, thus far, the government had absorbed the costs of the crisis in its own budget but that this cannot continue for much longer because of the collapse in its revenues. At present public spending accounts for 48 per cent of the economy and revenue from taxation only 35 per cent.
How do we stop it all happening again? Vince said conventional banking operations should be separated from the casino side of the business, so that government never has to bale out the casinos again. He also counselled the government against selling off its bank holdings too rapidly, because it probably won't get a good deal from them at the moment.
Answering questions from the audience, Vince spoke of meeting executives from Northern Rock. So ingrained was the belief that everyone should be a homeowner that those executives thought they were heroes for selling people 125 per cent mortgages for six times their salaries.
In short, it was an informative and authoritative performance from Vince, again showing his ability to appear to rise above politics while being intensely political.
After the meeting I met Ian Ridley of Harborough Liberal Democrats and Liberator fame and Ben Ravilious. Previously I had met Ben, one of the leading campaigners against the demolition of Leicester's Bowstring Bridge, only through Twitter.
He turns out to be grandson of Eric Ravilious, who is one of my favourite artists.