The need for a strategy – and the fact that we haven’t got one

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I have read almost all the quality press in the UK this weekend, and more besides. I even bought the Mirror on Saturdays to see what they were saying. I did so for one reason: I wanted to identify the nascent buds (at the very least) of a strategy to drive our banks and our economy through the aftermath of the immediate credit crisis.

I did not find any evidence of those nascent buds. I did realise that there really are only two papers really adding value at the moment, which are the FT and the Guardian, the rest being laden instead with fear at the loss of the lifestyle of excess to which some have become accustomed.

It is for that reason that I have been trying to offer an outline of such a strategy on this blog. I did it first with commentary on how to mange the immediate crisis: comment that remains apposite at this moment when we still have no idea of the banking system will literally survive this week. Many of these issues remain a priority: for example a cut in interest rates of not less than 1.5% is required in the UK this week. Anything else would be suicidal.

I have also indicated a short term plan if the banking system does survive, albeit in government ownership. This includes neutering the claim of tax havens. It would also require a radical, and rapid response to the likelihood of significant increases in the rate of mortgage default in the near future. I addressed this issue a while ago, here, suggesting the creation of what I would now call a new Social Housing Corporation.

I have also suggested a short term strategy for our banks, and now a longer term one to restore value to the markets and to ensure that viability is restored.

I'm not for a minute saying these are the only available options: some I would already amend as circumstances have changed. But each remains relevant, and what staggers me is the absence of anything like this analysis almost anywhere else. We're not going to get through this issue without clear thinking. I really do hope it is going on, but there's no indication from our papers that it is. And that really worries me.