Gordon Brown: Global Economy Still Not at a New Normal, Still Evolving, Shocks Ahead


Skidelsky Brown Soros INET Bretton Woods 2011.jpgThis speech delivered at the 2011 Institute for New Economic Thinking Conference in Bretton Woods, NH by former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown was stunningly excellent.
Both the substance of Brown’s comments and his delivery of them electrified the room. I’ll be writing some of what I felt was most important in his commentary, but people should watch Brown work through some of the great economic challenges of the day and hear his warnings about what is yet to be tackled. I asked him a question about the dynamics inside Europe and competing policy approaches to dealing with global economic responsibilities.
But this speech and Brown’s performance demonstrate something that we have seen before in the likes of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and former Vice President Al Gore. Each of these people was too cautious, too pruned, too stiff and controlled when running to secure for themselves the highest office in their respective lands.
After their high paid political handlers were gone after failed campaigns and each was left to do his own scripting, Gordon Brown, John Kerry, and Al Gore morphed into the leaders we all wanted to see earlier — each of them quick on their feet, often brilliant in their framing of great social challenges, and just more dynamic, compelling and magnetic.
INET Executive Director Robert Johnson opens the program and introduces the great chronicler of the life and thinking of John Maynard Keynes, Lord Robert Skidelsky, who then introduces the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Gordon Brown, who was on high sizzle.
— Steve Clemons
(The pic on the upper right shows Robert Skidelsky, Gordon Brown and George Soros; photo credit: Institute for New Economic Thinking)


7 comments on “Gordon Brown: Global Economy Still Not at a New Normal, Still Evolving, Shocks Ahead

  1. samuelburke says:

    Such flowery writing Mr Clemons.
    Shouldn’t we use some metric other than celebrity status to
    gauge the great leaders?
    Sycophantic adulation gets us nowhere except maybe into further
    i’m not saying they do not deserve it, i’m just asking.
    Doesn’t a ships captain have any responsibility where a ship
    ends up ultimately or, for leading it into storms, or do ships just
    automatically get drawn into storms like stars are drawn in by
    is there anything to be accountable for?


  2. mymy says:

    Such discussions MUST be held. There is far too little imagination
    regarding what is to come.


  3. Dan Roberts says:

    It was a very good speech – Gordon Brown is treated in a very harsh & unfair manner by some elements in the UK who want to score cheap short-term political points.
    I know that history will be a fairer judge; those who are critical tend to forget that if it wasn’t for his policies setting the global standard for the stabilisation of domestic & international banking systems, hundreds of millions of families and people worldwide could have lost everything.
    Thanks to him, we’ve got a fighting chance to recover.


  4. Warren Metzler says:

    I have to disagree with rc. After this speech I now understand why Brown lost the election. Every single one of his points were rooted in fantasy, for which he has not a single piece of supporting evidence. He is obviously a stone cold socialist, who has yet to see a single area of human activity in which it is not great to have the government intimately involved. He is a major cheering section for world government, which would be a travesty. Anyone read 1984?, coupled with remembering the saying that absolute power corrupts absolutely?
    I totally disagree with Skidelski’s claim that international cooperation cut short the current decline from replicating the Great Depression. That is just pure sophistry, for which there is no evidence. Just because intervention occurs as greater and greater sinking stopped doesn’t mean the intervention was the cause. Association is never proof of causality.
    Brown’s captivation by the IMF and the World Bank, is truly amazing. Either he is the smartest fool I have ever known, or he is being deliberately disingenuous. Because I know of not a single case where an intervention by either of those two organization in some country didn’t result in that country moving further toward chaos and a poor economy. I don’t know nearly all of their interventions, but I am informed of several dozens. And they were each one deleterious nonsense.
    I find one particular aspect of his premise fascinating. According to him all the world’s governments were on vacation for a decade, and just came back as the crisis occurred, so they had nothing to do with the fall, but are surely responsible for the success that occurred. Not a smidgen of confession at creating policies that created the problem.
    Finally, as a keen observer of humans, including in the realm of work, I offer the following. ALL jobs are created by a person, or persons starting a business, because they were personally attracted to working in that area; never because of an action taken by some government. All jobs are filled by humans who personally decide to work there, not at all because of some government action. We need to give up once and for all, the idea elected officials sitting in legislative chambers, coupled with civil servants (each of whom is just like you and I), have the capacity to know more then we citizens know about our own personal actions.
    And I detected a bit of racism in his claim that if the rest of the world exceeds the US and Europe in income, consumer spending, and business investment, that will be a problem. It is great if the entire world gets a piece of the action, and not just whites in the northern hemisphere.
    I am particularly incensed by the claim that recapitalization of the banks was good. Banks provide storage of people’s extra funds. And provide loans for people and businesses to conduct their affairs. If one such firm, say Goldman Sachs, was allowed to go bankrupt because of its fraud and immoral business practices, it is obvious that another company would soon step in and offer that same business. It is a simple supply and demand equation: where there is a demand, there will arise a supply. So the idea that the world’s economy would have suffered a worse blow if all those financial institutions were allowed to experience the fruits of their labors, I consider to be very false nonsense. Promoted, I am certain, primarily to expand government’s role in our lives, plus to pay back all the significant campaign contributions received by our leading politicians from people in high places in those very banks.


  5. Dan Kervick says:

    Mark Thoma recently opened a discussion post on his blog where he asked what could be done about unemployment here in the United States. I submitted a comment in which I argued for a program that combines an approach to full employment with the need to invest in the education of our people. Given that investing in education and achieving full (global) employment were themes of Gordon Brown


  6. DakotabornKansan says:

    Yearning for FDR more every day


  7. rc says:

    Yes, a good speech and powerful delivery — one that felt authentic perhaps because it seemed it was himself talking from what he believed rather than just delivering a speech writer’s safely crafted script.


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