Monday, October 10, 2011

Robert @Peston entertains on the economy

My father-in-law's bruised knee was my good fortune last Saturday as I gained his ticket to hear Robert Peston, Business Editor for the BBC, speaking at the Cheltenham Literature Festival.

I'd recently read Peston's book Who runs Britain? and have been alarmed at the number of friends in the banking world who have found his insights in the book have educated them about their own industry!

Here's what I Tweeted as Peston spoke last Saturday:
  • Robert Peston at #cheltlitfest starting out humorously. Interview format talking re his dad Lord Peston
  • Peston arguing for high ethics: as a business journalist he refuses to own shares in a company, even if disclosed cd case bias [Peston feels that even if he disclosed his share ownership people might think that his journalism was influenced by the ownership: so he chooses not to own shares in the first place.]
  • Peston #cheltlitfest "If you can't explain in simple terms what you do, you don't understand what you do." [I don't think I'd heard it put this way before, but I completely agree: there's a great talent to be able to explain complex stuff in simple terms. And Peston went on to argue that the bankers fundamentally failed to understand the complexities of their products in simple terms.]
  • Peston #cheltlitfest world mess = "Too much debt (all of us) in the rich West" Borrowed 400% of what we earn! [Peston argued that it wasn't just bankers or governments, but ordinary
    borrowers too who binged on debt.]
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest "We maintained living standards by borrowing to buy what we want" > Illusion we are getting wealthier
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest eg China made stuff; sold stuff; saved income... We borrowed (from them) to buy the stuff they made
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest we must save more, spend less; but not q now else economy will stall - Dependent on consumer spending
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest UK consumers ratio of debt to income is 165%
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest we can't live on debt for ever. But politics now about making tough choices w scarce resources
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest Germany essentially has to be prepared to use it's resources to bail out all other European countries! ;)
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest German wealth recently built up by selling stuff to Greece etc and by loaning them money [so "don't feel too sorry for them" was his point!]
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest Banking at its best is a socially v useful function.
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest But banks played major role in crisis by hiding degree of risk & money creation to boost own pay
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest but anger doesn't get us v far even if it is legitimate
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest real capitalism is about allowing rewards of success but also results of failure.
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest in the good years bankers have taken the bonuses; in the bad years tax payers have been made to take losses [So the bankers were reckless, knowing that they'd win big if their bets were successful; and that they'd be bailed out by tax payers if they failed.]
  • @Peston #cheltlitfest rest of world thought eurozone was working so allowed weaker countries to borrow at favorable (German) rates [So one of the eurozone failures is simply that the level of risk across the economic zone is not homogenous; but interest rates and currency levels do not fluctuate within the zone to price for that variance.]
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