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June 11, 2006

Ah the Yanks and their 'soccer'!

You gotta love those damn Americans. From the New York Times (about yesterday's game):

A terrible game, really. Beckham clearly the man of the match, but few others did anything of note.

Beckham the best player in the game? He wasn't even the best player on England's right flank!

March 21, 2006

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

When Gordon Brown gives his budget tomorrow, he'll probably begin by reeling off a number of economic indicators, which to be fair normally sound impressive. Things like "we've got the fastest growing economy in the G8" and "we've got the lowest unemployment in 30 years". And well done to him.

But then you hear George Bush try and do the same thing and he sounds like a gimp. At a briefing in Washington, he just came out with lines like this:

"We've got lower 'average' unemployment than in the 70s, 80s and 90s"
"We've got higher levels of investment than the whole of the EU combined"

And there were others…

Firstly, what does 'lower average unemployment' mean? Nothing to those on the dole, but nothing statistically either.

And secondly, whoop-de-doo! Higher levels of anything than the whole of the EU shouldn't be a big achievement for the US considering its size and the fact that newer members of the EU25 have relatively unadvanced economies.

Nothing he said suggested that the American economy was in a healthy state at all, but you can bet that the Americans will lap up his positive rhetoric, despite the completely hollow foundations that lie underneath Bush's statistics.

February 11, 2006

Mind the splash…

In today's Guardian:

Imagine you are an investor who has bought financial assets in a country that's running a trade deficit of 5.8% of its national output. Imagine, also, that the size of that deficit grew by 17.5% last year…The country we are talking about is not Mexico or Thailand but the United States, which yesterday announced a record trade deficit of $726bn (£415bn) for 2005…Clearly, trade deficits of 6% of GDP are unsustainable. Clearly, the dollar has to fall. Simple game theory suggests that there is a real advantage in being the first central bank to move.

So the American economy looks set to do a Peter Kay-esque running bomb and surely we're all going to get soaked?

Well, yes and no. Stock markets will take a big hit if economies – especially Asian ones – start selling dollars. But in reality, this is surely just going to be a blip. Won't there be a certain amount of relief in the City and other institutions if the inevitable finally happens and the dollar finally comes down to a more sustainable position? Won't it reel in President Bush's unrealistic low-tax, high-spend philosophy? Won't investors realise that not a huge amount of our trade takes place with the US, and that as long as we have strong trading links with the EU, everything will be alright? And won't it be seen as a boost to our economy, as investment here might suddently appear more attractive?

Or am I being a hopeless optimist?

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