Monday 1 February 2010

Economics - GDP For The Masses

It was busy time when the phone rang, on the Disused Stations web site finding how to get from Walton On The Hill to Knitsley with the minimum number of changes using the July 1922 Bradshaw. The voice was muffled and hoarse, Ed Balls didn’t want me to know. “GDP, margin of error and seasonal adjustments.” Then he was gone probably putting it on his confidential Twitter that was cracked months ago.

Minutes later there was another call, Vince Cable this time talking falsetto. “0.1 is negative if you factor in underlying inflation and PFI, think off balance and shifting liabilities.” I just said “Yeah, yeah” and put the phone, I don’t do dirty, not least because MI5 have had me tapped since 1956. When the weathers bad they even order the groceries delivered without me asking.

Later it was the organic shelf in M&S that really had me worried. A big woman took the last cabbage before I could get to it. OK she needs the fibre, I thought, but the head butt was not necessary. Then I realised, she was no lady and nobody’s wife. It was Supermac, a blast from the past. He had been in the front row of the London Scottish pack in the good days fifty years or so ago. He did not look pretty in a wide flowered skirt, frilly blouse, and long black wig. Also he had not shaved for a few days and had put on a lot of weight.

“You got Ed and Vince?” “Yup” I replied. “Gordon?” “Nope, the last time he said he was going to cut off my annualised returns I reminded him about that business with Greenock Gertie, he hasn’t rung since” “Lucky you,” said Mac “But GDP, “I groaned, “Listen,” he insisted, “QE.” “What or which?” I replied. “Look, Mr. Awkward, if you really want to know about GDP, CPI, RPI, Balance of Trade, Fiscals, and all that you know what to do.” “Tell me,” I asked, keeping an eye on the four hoods at the end of the aisle trying to look like shelf stackers.

“Follow the money,” he said. I shook my head, “You’ve been watching too many old movies, you ain’t Robert Redford, nor Dustin Hoffman, more like Dougal from Magic Roundabout without the philosophy input.” “Just listen,” I did, recalling the time he had gone fifty yards with the London Welsh pack hanging on to his every limb. “Where has the money gone, who have they given it too, on what terms, and how is being used to shore up who and where does the eventual take go?”

“Nice,” I said, “I’ll look it up on Roubini, Panzner and Some Assembly Required when I’ve finished my thesis on rail journeys that nobody ever made, I got a Department of Transport grant for it and they want results.” “Just do it dumbo,” he said, “Just do it, someone has to, just as all that toxic debt is going to going to evaporate all the quantatitive easing does is to money the money figures round and round to make them all look good.” “And then?” “Someone gets left with the body bag when all the others have gone.”

Then Mac was gone, moving as fast as ever as he trampled over the hoods ignoring their screams. I left through the service entrance. Mac had form, he had been in secondary banking and property ramping into the early 1970’s when it all went bad. A local authority treasurer in a Labour council after reorganisation he was sacked when they lost control in 1978 after losing control over rising costs and finished up lecturing on management and finance in an expanding polytechnic now a University with deep budget issues.

He should have stayed but went big on the internet in the late 1990’s emigrating when the bust happened to a Caribbean island setting up trusts for the rich and famous. Then he made friends with Madoff and Stanford as well as consulting for Lehmann. Now he was back in the UK and going strong in Social Entrepreneur outfits in Labour Councils. He had told me that as innovative rackets went it was small time but what else could you expect from people with small minds?

He would make enough to buy a few thousand acres, hire security from Russia and go self sufficient when it all went bad again. He had this deal to bring over Germans and Swedes in long ships to settle on neighbouring lands and take them over under his supervision.

Mac said that this was the way to go so next I try boatyards on Google. The trains will be subject to delays because of line and staff problems.

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