Magazine article Public Finance

Pass Master

Magazine article Public Finance

Pass Master

Article excerpt

It seems that the F-word may no longer be acceptable in our classrooms. 'Failure is apparently a demotivating term and, if some teachers have their way, it will be replaced by 'deferred success'.

In this climate, no doubt Chancellor Gordon Brown will award himself an A+ when he passes his self-imposed Golden Rule of borrowing only to invest. The economic cycle is due to end soon and Brown is currently well within his margin of error.

But to reach this position, the Iron Chancellor had to show some impressive flexibility. He announced to an incredulous Treasury select committee this week that they had been labouring under the misapprehension that the cycle began in 1999, whereas the true date was actually two years earlier.

As a result the government can now borrow an extra £12bn without breaking the rule. This leaves Browns legacy intact and puts off any nasty decisions about tax rises.

Of course, Brown had some data from the Office for National Statistics to back up his argument. And he will be asking the National Audit Office to assess 'whether our judgement is reasonable and cautious.

Even so, it does leave an impression of someone who sets his own exam, changes the marking criteria at the last minute and then sits back to await the certificate lauding his prudent management of the economy. …

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