Economic figures just don’t add up

I really enjoyed reading BBC Political Editor Nick Robinson’s blog about the Chancellor’s meeting today, at his country retreat in the Buckinghamshire countryside. Apparently the Budget, which is due a month from today, will be the main and only subject up for discussion.

It’s a good read, whatever you feel about the economy, politics and the general stewardship of the nation, in which Mr Robinson points out that the venue, Dorneywood, is the same said place where rescued British hostages are de-briefed and rehabilitated, and he closes by asking: “Will the Chancellor find a way to break free or will he leave Dorneywood a hostage to events?”

Earlier the BBC’s politics man says that the question for George Osborne is whether to continue to rely on the Bank of England’s loosening of monetary policy to encourage a private sector powered recovery, or allow borrowing to increase to more directly fund capital spending.
I am of course a dedicated backer of the private sector, which has, to date, done a fairly spectacular job in absorbing public sector redundancies. However, that said, this dilemma is way above my pay grade!

Personally, I think George Osborne will be asking a much more straight forward question, something like – What the hell’s going on out there?
Figures out today have more people in work than at any time in history, and yet the economy refuses to grow, with the country just one quarter away from a triple-dip recession.

This is no small number either – there are now 29.73 million people in work, 580,000 more than a year ago, and 154,000 above the number chipping in even three months ago.

But despite this, GDP is perilously close to stagnant. Then you have all the empty shops on our high streets; HMV in big trouble, Jessops boarded up, Blockbuster kaput!
And that’s just the high profile ones that have hit the headlines – there are many more! Business confidence is shot we are told . . . or is it?

Does anyone have a clue why the Footsie was up more than 500 points – more than 8.5% – this morning from where it closed on the final day of 2012?

I’ve got a theory, and before I get labelled insane (again), maybe someone could come up with a better explanation for how more than half a million workers can apparently create nothing of any worth?

Remember back in the 1980s, a certain tabloid type of story, where a British Rail employee, whose line had been closed as part of Dr Beeching’s cuts of 1963, was found to have been paid for 20 odd years, without doing any work?

This kind of thing presumably happened because the very cuts that closed the line in question also included the person who was supposed to remove the lucky fellow from the payroll.

So, I was thinking maybe as a result of the Government’s cuts to the civil service, someone whose job it is to count something and pass it up the line to be included in the GDP total has been canned, leaving the odd billion or three off balance sheet!

Don’t laugh – it could happen, and if it was true I’d imagine it’d make the Chancellor happier than a man who finds a score in his trouser pocket the morning after a night down the pub!

All I can really say for sure is I am looking forward to the Budget on March 20, and attending George’s post-budget business briefing the following day, where he will hopefully answer my question.

Charlie Mullins

About Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins is the archetypal entrepreneur having started Pimlico Plumbers from scratch and building it into a multi-million pound enterprise. Always opinionated and often controversial, Charlie’s common sense attitude has earned him a reputation as one of the UK's most outspoken entrepreneurs.

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