Cover of MoneyWeek Magazine issue number 420, 30 January 2009

Take it easy

30 January 2009 / Issue 420

Low-risk ways to make 6% a year... PLUS:

  • Profit as nuclear energy comes in from the cold
  • Obama's next big problem: turmoil in Mexico
  • The downfall of the banker with the $1,400 waste-bin


Gordon Brown’s chutzpah

Britain is in a state. Our banks are bust, or near-bust. New job losses are announced every other day. And even if we can hold on to our jobs, the weak pound means we can’t even take a break in the sun to get away from it all – Iceland’s about the only bargain destination we have left open to us. We may not quite be facing national bankruptcy, but it’s hard to think of when we’ve been more vulnerable in economic terms.

So it’s a surprise to learn that Gordon Brown – the man at the helm of the British economy since 1997 – apparently saw all this coming. For the past ten years, he told us this week, he’s been proclaiming the need for “an early warning system so that international financial flows are properly monitored”. There’s a “regulatory deficit” at “a global level”, he reckons, a situation he’s been condemning as “inadequate” for years. If only we’d listened.

It’s refreshing to find that even after all this time, I can still be taken aback by the sheer audacity of the Prime Minister. The fact that he’s still trying to blame everyone else for the current problem is one thing – any politician hell-bent on saving their own neck would do exactly the same. But to try to pin the current crisis on ineffective global regulation is just unbelievable. Who put in place the current regulatory regime in Britain? You know, the one that allowed our banks to leverage themselves up to the gills with toxic assets? Why, it was Mr Brown, while he was head of the Treasury.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: Gordon Brown’s chutzpah