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Home Publications Blogs Beat the Press British Prime Minister David Cameron Doesn't Know Economics, Where Is the Ridicule?

British Prime Minister David Cameron Doesn't Know Economics, Where Is the Ridicule?

Wednesday, 05 October 2011 13:32

The NYT reported that British Prime Minister David Cameron was prepared to give a speech in which he would call on households and businesses to pay down their debt rather than spend. This amounts to a gaffe of enormous proportions. It implies that the Prime Minister overseeing one of the world's largest economies has no clue about economics. If households and businesses responded to the prime minister's request, it would further reduce demand leading to a second recession and a further rise in unemployment.

While the NYT piece did note that Cameron changed his comments in response to complaints from businesses, it did not go on to quiz his staff in the same way that the media have followed up on other alleged gaffes by political figures. For example, in the weeks following the disclosure of then Senator Obama's comments about working class Pennsylvanians turning to guns and religion out of frustration and bitterness, news stories were filled with accounts from Obama's press people and others about his remarks. 

Certainly the magnitude of Cameron's gaffe dwarfs the guns and religion statement from Obama. The media should be pressing his aides to determine whether Mr. Cameron is really as confused about the economy as the text of his original speech implied. People in both the UK and the rest of the world would undoubtedly like to know.


Comments (8)Add Comment
Give Me Liberty or Give Me Debt: Patrick Henry and Ricardian Freedom
written by izzatzo, October 05, 2011 4:56
Certainly the magnitude of Cameron's gaffe dwarfs the guns and religion statement from Obama.

When you take from me the very austerity weapons most essential for survival you will have to pry my cold dead fingers from a chest holding a stilled heart that once beat the rhythm of Ricardian Equivalent Freedom.

Stupid liberals.
Obama's "Gaffe" Happened to be the Truth
written by Paul, October 05, 2011 6:12
Cameron's gaffe is simply ludicrous and not worthy of further inquiry. Everyone knows that Cameron is a complete fool on the same level as Yosemite Sam Perry, so nobody takes anything he says seriously.
What David Cameron actually said:
written by AndrewDover, October 05, 2011 7:42

"This was no normal recession; we're in a debt crisis. It was caused by too much borrowing, by individuals, businesses, banks, and most of all, governments. When you're in a debt crisis, some of the normal things that government can do, to deal with a normal recession, like borrowing to cut taxes or increase spending - these things won't work because they lead to more debt, which would make the crisis worse.

Why? Because it risks higher interest rates, less confidence and the threat of even higher taxes in future. The only way out of a debt crisis is to deal with your debts. That's why households are paying down their credit card and store card bills. It means banks getting their books in order. And it means governments - all over the world - cutting spending and living within their means."

"So let me say this: as long as I'm Prime Minister, we will never join the Euro.

And I won't let us be sucked into endless bail-outs of countries that are in the Euro either."

"The failure of the housing market is bound up in the debt crisis. Because lenders won't lend, builders won't build and buyers can't buy.

We're sorting this out, bringing back the Right to Buy and using the money to build new homes."

"And today, we can choose to be a country that's back on its feet and striding forward. Paying down our debt and earning a living. Getting people off welfare and into work. Breaking new ground in education, with excellence for everyone not a privileged few."

written by Doc at the Radar Station, October 05, 2011 8:27
Cameron has been listening to Nassim Taleb, so maybe that explains it. Perhaps you should criticize his views instead?
Cameron's Final Sentence Is Hilarious!
written by Paul, October 05, 2011 10:30
Obviously educational excellence in Britain does not include economics. The masses certainly have no reason to envy the education of "privileged few" who have learned nothing during the past 75 years. What a pathetic lot the Brits have become.
written by Union Member, October 06, 2011 12:09

He's the Prime Minister for crying out loud! "Everyone knows that Cameron is a complete foo,l" and " nobody takes anything he says seriously. Then how did he get to the head of his government.

People think Bill O'Riley. Larry Kudlow, and Rick Perry are fools too; but, they cause a lot of damage also - and their foolery is purposeful.
Cameron and voodoo economics.
written by Ralph Musgrave, October 06, 2011 5:17

For more inspiring ideas on economics from Cameron, see this article from 2009 entitled “Why are we silent as Cameron preaches voodoo economics?”

written by kharris, October 06, 2011 12:09
Cameron is not mistaken if he has merchantilist goals. Keynes thinks Very Serious People with no pretension of understanding economics are generally in the thrall of some dead economist. Cameron, in pretending an understanding of economics, is simply in the thrall of some economist who died around the time of the US Revolutionary War, or before.

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About Beat the Press

Dean Baker is co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, D.C. He is the author of several books, his latest being The End of Loser Liberalism: Making Markets Progressive. Read more about Dean.