Thursday, 21 October 2010

Fighting with one arm behind our backs

The cuts are coming, that much we now know. But the extent of the cuts in public spending and on welfare benefits and the impact of the UK government's decisions is still difficult to quantify until the small print is scrutinised.
One thing is apparent. The outlook is already fragile because manufacturing, which makes up a large part of the Welsh economy, took a big hit in 2007-9. This round of cuts targets the public sector, which again makes up a large part of the Welsh economy. This puts us at risk of a double-dip recession and we might not now about it until it's too late.

Welsh economist Professor David Blackaby of Swansea University has already pointed to evidence of weakening in the housing market as a sign that a return to recession could be facing the Welsh economy.

“There is evidence in the housing market suggesting it is going for a double dip. House prices didn’t fall as much as expected the last time.

“If there was a double-dip across the UK we would know about it, but not in Wales because we do not collect quarterly GDP figures.”

“We know that Wales was harder hit in the recession we have had because of the size of the manufacturing sector in Wales. It was manufacturing which was particularly badly hit. The next job losses are likely to come in the public sector and that is again a sector which is relatively bigger in Wales than in the UK.”

Some economists have gone even further, warning that a double-dip recession for the whole of the UK is inevitable following the spending cuts.

Economist David Blanchflower says that not only was a double-dip recession now a certainty, but that any return to growth would be anaemic, leading to rising unemployment.

“I’ve already called it the greatest macro-economic mistake in years. There’s no example in history where such a thing as this has ever worked. The only examples in history is where you’ve done this and it’s failed.

“It generates double-dip recession, this looks like the greatest error we’ve ever seen in our lifetime in economics.”

With the Welsh Government's budget cut by 11% - a greater percentage than either Scotland or the North of Ireland - the need for a powerful parliament for Wales has never been greater. At present, the Assembly is like a prize fighter with one arm tied behind it's back - unable to fight Wales's corner effectively.
Until we have those powers, the politicians in London will impose their will on us - regardless of whether we voted for them or not.

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