Cover of MoneyWeek magazine issue no 714

Going bust - What happens when countries default?

23 October 2014 / Issue Upcoming

When countries go bust, others follow suit. Not even our Canute central banks will be able to hold back the coming wave, says Jonathan Compton. Read this week's cover story here.

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Merryn Somerset WebbEDITOR'S LETTER

Merryn Somerset Webb

Controlling the weather

There are many reasons to vaguely disapprove of Twitter. But there are more to love it. Here’s one little exchange that shows why. Earlier this week The Herald tweeted one of its headlines: “Give Scotland powers to boost economy, says business chief.”

An immediate response came from the account of @countprosper (which belongs to an ex-partner in a Scottish fund-management firm): “Give Scotland power to change the weather, says tourist chief.”

Here you have all the nonsense spoken about economics summed up in fewer than 280 characters. Politics is about pretending economies can somehow be “boosted” as long as governments have the correct “powers” and “levers” to control supply and demand. Jobs can be “created” and tax revenues lifted as long as “powers” are correctly used.

Countprosper has been around long enough to know this isn’t true – we might as well claim to be able to stop the rain in Glasgow as to know exactly how to boost its economy. If it was that simple to make everyone rich, it would surely have been done already.

Bill Bonner feels the same. “Modern policymakers are either fools or knaves. Their programmes are senseless and useless. Their theories airy claptrap”.

• Read the full editor’s letter here: Controlling the weather