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Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng were right but got ‘communication’ wrong says Cardiff economics professor

06 Nov 2022 5 minute read
Prime Minister Liz Truss and Chancellor of the Exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng (left) during a visit to a construction site. Photo Stefan Rousseau PA Images. Right, Patrick Minford. Picture from his Facebook page.

Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng were right but got their communications wrong according to a controversial Cardiff University economics professor.

Described as Liz Truss’ economics guru, Patrick Minford said that the “pro-growth agenda” of former PM Liz Truss and her Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng had been what the UK economy needed and “we will all suffer from its demise”.

During the short-lived, 50-day Liz Truss administration he had defended Liz Truss against her critics and described those who thought the fall in the value of the pound was a problem as “idiots”.

He now said that it was her communications skills rather than the economic plan itself that was the underlying problem.

“The tragedy was that she and her chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng failed to produce the documentary evidence that would reassure the markets that their tax cuts would be covered by faster growth,” he wrote in the Telegraph.

“Poor presentation and communication proved their downfall.”

He added that “the main cause of the gilt rate surge that destabilised Truss’s administration was the shift in expectations of future Bank of England set interest rates”.

Gilt rates have however come down since Liz Truss was removed as Prime Minister while the Bank of England have continued to raise interest rates.

“The story being peddled by the current consensus of policymakers and UK market economists is that the recent mini-Budget drove the UK’s credit-worthiness to terrible levels, due to fears of budgetary profligacy,” he said.

“This reading of events badly exaggerates UK credit risk. The rates on UK gilt five-year credit default swaps (which prices the risk a country will not pay its debts) did not move in recent months beyond the range of France.”

‘Grim’

Patrick Minford added that new Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt were now “on course to learn all the wrong lessons from the turmoil in the markets”.

“The track we are now on – fiscal tightening (tax rises and spending cuts) plus monetary tightening (high interest and mortgage payments) – has been tried before and invariably leads us further on to the scorched earth of more tax rises, more spending cuts and a slump in living standards,” he said.

“Politically, for the Conservatives, the outlook is grim. If Sunak and Hunt press ahead in the November 17 Autumn Statement with their triple whammy of tax rises, spending cuts and higher mortgage rates, the country is unlikely to forgive them.”

He added: “Policy can still avoid plunging the UK economy into recession and endlessly low growth. But it rapidly needs to change course to do so.”

‘Anxiety’

On Friday Rishi Sunak has said inflation is the “number one enemy”, as he vowed to rebuild trust in the Government following Liz Truss’s calamitous tenure in No 10.

The Prime Minister said he was doing everything he can to “grip” the issue and limit rises in mortgage repayments, as the Bank of England is forced to put up interest rates to curb rising prices.

On Thursday, the Bank warned the country is facing the longest recession in a century as it hiked base rates by 0.75 percentage points to 3% – their highest level in 15 years.

With many families now facing crippling rises in their monthly mortgage bills, Mr Sunak told The Times that he understood their concerns as they worried how to make ends meet.

“I absolutely recognise the anxiety that people have about mortgages. It’s one of the biggest bills people have,” he said.

“So what I want to say to people is that I’m going to do absolutely everything I can to grip this problem, to limit the rise in those mortgage rates.

“I think inflation is the number one enemy, as Margaret Thatcher rightly said. Inflation has the biggest impact on those with the lowest incomes. I want to get a grip of inflation.”

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak alongside the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, Stefan Rousseau PA images

‘Trust’

With the UK facing an estimated £50 billion black hole in the public finances, Mr Sunak said it was important the Government was honest with voters about the “trade-offs” the country faced in Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s forthcoming autumn statement.

“Everyone appreciates that the Government cannot do everything. How does government do everything? It just does it by borrowing money which ultimately leads to, as we saw, high inflation, a loss of credibility, spiking interest rates,” he said.

Among the measures Mr Sunak and Mr Hunt are considering to address the deficit are a further two-year freeze on the lifetime pension allowance and the imposition for the first time of VAT on electric vehicles, The Daily Telegraph reported.

Mr Sunak acknowledged that after the turmoil of Ms Truss’s premiership, the Conservatives urgently needed to rebuild the trust of the public.

He pointed to his own record as chancellor – when he introduced the Covid furlough scheme – as to why people should trust him when it comes to running the economy.

“I completely acknowledge that trust has been damaged over the past few weeks and months. I realise that trust is not given, trust is earned. My job is to regain people’s trust,” he said.

“The only thing that people will take away from the summer – hopefully from my track record as chancellor – I’m someone they can trust understands the economy.

“I’m someone they can have confidence in, who will manage us through what will be a difficult economic time. I’ve got a track record in doing it.”


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George Thomas
George Thomas
24 days ago

Some things Liz Truss had in mind (planned cut to NI, investment in north of England rail, less aggressive response to immigration) were spot on with bad communication and bad timing. Some things (tax cuts for wealthiest, shifting away from environmental pledges) were the wrong things at the wrong time. He’s right in saying that Sunak/Hunt’s plan might settle the markets but is the wrong thinking at the wrong time – it’s tried and tested failure. Both versions of this Tory government had horrible attitudes to majority of people living in UK and want to be best friends to wealthiest… Read more »

Karl
Karl
24 days ago
Reply to  George Thomas

Her home sec was far right leaking anti immigrant

hdavies15
hdavies15
24 days ago

This must be one of the missing drips from the trickle down panto.

Leigh Richards
Leigh Richards
24 days ago

Until the deranged Truss rescued him from obscurity Minford was known for being the only ‘economist’ who supported Thatcher’s grotesque and deliberate policy of creating mass unemployment in Wales, Scotland and the north of england in favour of the economy of the south east of england. Now hes the only ‘economist’ who thinks Truss was right to pursue policies that saw the value of the pound collapse, doubled the UK govt’s debt and threatened the very existence of millions of peoples pension funds. Minford is clearly as mad and callous as he ever was.

Aaron
Aaron
23 days ago
Reply to  Leigh Richards

supply Side economic work and allowed economy to grow rather than fiscal and monetary tightening

hdavies15
hdavies15
24 days ago

Fear not, bois bach, King Carlo gets crowned on Sat 6th May and the Monday 8th May is now given as a Bank Holiday. There’s luvly mun innit. I’m so grateful that we live in this ever so inclusive UK where bank hols are dished out whenever it suits the regime. If Carlo puts in a good word perhaps we’ll get St David’s Day recognised in the same way. I might push my luck and ask for Owain’s Day too. After all he gave them a hell of a run for their money.

max wallis
max wallis
24 days ago

What nonsense! They did not publish the documentation because they didn’t have any. Truss and Kwarteng chose to believe the unsupported assertions of Minford.
Likewise, go-nuclear decision had no supporting study, just Kwarteng’s longstanding prejudice fed by nuclear lobbyists.

Mab Meirion
Mab Meirion
24 days ago

Wasn’t he the manager of that weird vaudeville double act…Spot the Dummy!

Property values rise again in Greenwich Village as the circus leaves town…

The original mark
The original mark
24 days ago

Why is so much time given to minford, he has proven to be an economic illiterate, seriously surprised Cardiff University have anything to do with him,

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
24 days ago

Well he was 100% wrong about the sunlit uplands of Brexit and is still in denial of what is blindingly obvious to the most one-eyed ideologue so what on earth is anyone doing by publishing his idiocy?
Why is he still associated with Cardiff University at 79 years of age and with discredited Ayn Rand views?

Dai Rob
Dai Rob
24 days ago

What a clown!!!

Steve Duggan
Steve Duggan
24 days ago

Mr Minford you were wrong about the benefits of Brexit and now you are wrong about Trussonomics. Truss and Kwarteng’s lack of communication was solely due to the fact they were going to borrow to fund tax cuts for the rich. There was no balancing the books to talk about. If the policy was so good – why does virtually every other economist and the markets disagree? I wouldn’t spread this view too far and wide,if I were you, the millions who are now far worse off are not on your side.

Owain Morgan
Owain Morgan
24 days ago

Anything to do with mythical trickle down economics they got wrong. They may have got one or two things right, but that was just down to blind luck or so called pork belly politics. If an Economist thinks these tone deaf fools were right, they have no sense of morality!

Karl
Karl
24 days ago

Nothing in Westminster is right or even humane right now. Her home sec is a far right hate stooge. Her chancellor is anti the average person.

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