Chris BishopBy Chris Bishop|October 3, 2022|4 Minutes|In Editor's Desk

Editor’s Desk

Farce folly and falling currency

If you live long enough you get to see everything. So goes an old saying.If you need any more proof that the economies of the world are heading to hell in step - look no further than the financial chaos going on in one of the so-called European former mother countries of Africa.

Tax cuts that favour merely the already rich few, more eye -watering borrowing at a difficult time for the economies of the world to borrow, topping off years of quantative easing – that’s printing money in English – that is turning the once sound British pound into confetti money. It has reached its lowest point for 35 years – almost parity  with the dollar and the economy is following it on the way down.-

All of the above, by the way, are actions that the Western nations – acting like a stern primary school teacher – spent years  telling African nations not to do. Now they are printing money and throwing economic caution to the wind with alacrity.

These are all actions that are going to impact entrepreneurs across Africa who have to do business with Britain or deal in foreign exchange.

Critics said the  mini-budget drove the British economy off a cliff. It was delivered by the new chancellor of the exchequer Kwasi Kwarteng, a man with roots in Ghana, who was born in London and educated at Eton and Cambridge.

The furore around the mini-budget descended into farce when the Daily Mirror in London used a picture of Bernard Mensah – another man born in Ghana who is a senior executive at the Bank of America – instead of Kwarteng. After all, all people from Ghana look the same don’t they ? No.

Then, as the week closed, there was another revelation that Kwarteng had held a champagne reception with a bunch of hedge fund managers, hours  after the delivery of the mini-budget.

As the champagne flowed, a couple of the hedge fund managers, egged Kwarteng on and said behind their hands that Kwarteng was a “useful idiot as they stood to make a fortune from the crash of the pound.

“ To add context the term, “useful idiot” was said to fall from the lips of  Karl Marx as he managed the Russian Revolution in 1917. It refers to someone who is manipulated into unwittingly furthering a cause.

Whether or not Kwarteng ends up being seen as a useful, or useless, idiot will be seen over the next two years or so. He says his borrowing and tax cutting budget will create economic growth and we will then realize how gifted and foresighted he is.

The chancellor of the exchequer is also something of a writer. A decade ago, I  bought his first book – Ghosts of Empire – and found it a lively and thought-provoking piece of historical writing. I think he made a better job of that book than he did with the mini-budget.