Predictions predictions

Can you remember?

Pedal powerPedal power

I have a relative who frequently begins conversation with "can you remember". This is heart sink time as they have a poor memory and frequently transpose events between family members and screw up on the dates as well. Never mind, can you remember when oil was $150 dollars a barrel? It was not so long ago, but now some days it is not even half that. Then the media was ecstatic and filled its time and the pages of newspapers with articles on how the world as we know it was to end because of the high price of oil. It was as if the proposed new 'Routemaster' bus for London would have a set of pedals under each seat as the only affordable means of propulsion. Well I fear we all make predictions and most of us make spectacularly wrong ones.

But now on to Nouriel Roubini. He is the man of the moment as far as the press is concerned they have named him Dr Gloom and portray him as a cross between a joke figure and a serious prophet. A Professor of Economics at New York University Roubini is very much an American. Born in Turkey into an Iranian Jewish family he has lived in Israel, Italy and now the US. His specialism is collapsing economies but while he is the man of the moment for the press the IMF see his work in an altogether different light; or did. For it was in 2006 at one of their conferences that he was as good as laughed off the stage for his predictions of impending financial disaster.

Now I know several people who also claim to have seen trouble ahead. They are a bit miffed that they too were not taken seriously, "it could not go on", they say. They then go on to explain how they told "everyone" this was so. And right they were, just like Roubini. But hang one, surely as night follows day boom follows bust and always has. What Roubini did was remind us of the rules, so why the laughter? What Gordon Brown said when he claimed to have ended 'boom and bust' should have had us laughing for it was so preposterous but we took him for real. If Roubini is, as an economist, an example of what is sometimes called a 'dismal science' what can be said of Brown?
Nouriel RoubiniNouriel Roubini
Now we turn to have another look at the Osborne/Mandelson affair and may I assure you these things are all related! As time has drifted on what started as the Osb-Man story is starting to be dominated by the latter. The very fact this story has lasted so long is annoying many people, they want us all to get back to the 'real' story. Their line is that we should stop laughing and gossiping and work out how to sort the crisis out. Their complaint is that the Osb-Man story stands 'in the way'.

Wrong. It shows exactly where UK politics is. For Nulabour cannot 'solve' this financial crisis with or without Mandelson and neither can it alter things by being within the EU. In a sense Brown and Mandelson are yesterday's men fiddling with today's problem, they are also stuck with the predictions that followed Mandelson's return from the EU to Nulabour. It was suggested that here was the man to transform the fortunes of Brown and Nulabour;there was also to be a bit of a spin off for business too. Well as we now can see that was another prediction that is waiting for the proof as, so far, all we have got is the spin. In such amounts too that even the EU, as Mandelson's former employer, is getting weary and has sought to disentangle itself from him. So far all Lord Mandy has shown is yes, you can pay a man too much. So he is bi-metallic man, an over-paid gopher half way between Gordon Brown the iron chancellor and Oleg Deripaska the aluminium oligarch and probably disappointing both.

So I'm now bound to ask "can you remember when our MPs had useful things to do with their time and our money?" For as I see it we now have too many of them, there is not enough work to go around. Here in the UK we might say that the present financial crisis is because there is too much debt, in the US they would say over leveraged. When it come to MPs I say we are over represented.

Back in February of this year on in a post called Sick system we wrote -

The House of Commons has been roughly the same size for years, since before we joined the EU, or EEC as it was then. As mentioned before 80% of our laws come 'plug and play' ready formed, with neither the need nor the opportunity for debate. If saving money is the name of the game, and I assume it is, hence we are tackling this latest challenge, then why not reduce our MP's numbers by 80%. That would give us a chamber of about 135 members.

So it is my prediction that if we reduced the size of our parliament we would see an improvement in the way we are governed. Fewer jobs would mean higher quality people elected, there would be less tittle-tattle so the press corps would wither to suit - much as Hedge Funds are doing now. Laugh if you must but I got it right when I predicted Boris Johnson would become Mayor of London 6 months before he did.

For the final prediction back to Prof Nouriel Roubini, in and article in the Times today he is quoted as saying - "I fear the worst is yet to come". And I fear he could be right.