Must-Read: Martin Wolf: David Cameron, the Ex-Prime Minister, Took a Huge Gamble and Lost

Must-Read: The very sharp Martin Wolf sees structural recession in Britain’s near future.

People minimizing risk are going to leave Britain. People who would otherwise locate in Britain and are risk-shy are going to pause and wait and see. The Bank of England needs to drop the value of the pound by enough to try to maintain full employment in Britain–but not by so much as to make investors feel that investments in Britain are unsafe and so lose the pound its exorbitant privilege.

As Keynes wrote at the beginning of his Tract on Monetary Reform back in 1923:

I dedicate this book, humbly and without permission, to the Governors and Court of the Bank of England, who now and for the future has a much more difficult and anxious task entrusted to them than in former days…

Martin Wolf: Brexit: David Cameron, the Ex-Prime Minister, Took a Huge Gamble and Lost: “The fearmongering of Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Nigel Farage, The Sun and the Daily Mail has won…

…The UK, Europe, the west and the world are, this morning, damaged. The UK is diminished and will, quite possibly, end up divided. Europe has lost its second-biggest and most outward-looking power. The hinge between the EU and the English-speaking powers has been snapped…. It is, above all, a victory of the disappointed and fearful…. The geography of the outcome reveals that this has also been a revolt of the provinces against a prosperous and globalised London. It is also a revolt against the establishment…. The UK might not be the last country to suffer such an earthquake….

The UK is now at the beginning of an extended period of uncertainty that, in overwhelming probability, foreshadows a diminished future. The Conservatives… will have to do what the Brexiters failed so egregiously to do during their mendacious campaign, namely, map out a strategy and tactics for unravelling the UK’s connections with the EU. This will probably consume the energies of that government and its successors over many years. It will also involve making some huge decisions… [abandon] membership of the single market. At best, the UK might participate in a free trade area in goods. Meanwhile, the rest of the EU, already burdened with so many difficulties, will have to work out its own negotiating positions. I expect them to be tough ones….

The UK economy is going to be reconfigured. Those businesses that have set up in the UK to serve the entire EU market from within must reconsider their position…. Manufacturers… will have to consider how to readjust…. Many will ultimately wish to relocate. Businesses who depend on their ability to employ European nationals must also reshape their operations…. In the short term, however, it will be difficult for businesses to make such decisions sensibly…. This uncertainty has always been the most obvious result of a vote to leave….

The UK’s decision to join the EU was taken for sound reasons. Its decision to leave was not. It is likely to be welcomed by Ms Le Pen, Mr Trump and Vladimir Putin. It is a decision by the UK to turn its back on the great European effort to heal its divisions. It is, for me, among the saddest of hours.

June 24, 2016


Brad DeLong
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