Showing posts with label Orwell. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Orwell. Show all posts

Wednesday, 3 April 2013


by Colin Bloom (with help)

Forget triple dip, personally I'm sceptical if we ever even had a double dip!  Lies, damn lies and Orwellian politicians you all scream, the statistics say otherwise!  But do they?

Anyone who is a keen runner, will tell you that having a 'running mate', in the physical exercise sense, is better than running alone. Most runners find the co-dependancy of forcing each other to go that bit further or that bit faster is almost as good as having a dose of whatever Lance Armstrong kept in his medicine cabinet. The other advantage of a running mate is that you have hours with someone to stress test ideas with whilst you stress test your already exhausted knees and feet.
My running partner is Mr Taylor, a man who unlike me has a brain the size of Belgium and a much stronger grasp of all things economic. If the ball should ever come loose out the back of the scrum, and I should ever find myself as Prime Minister; it would be Mr Taylor who would be my Chancellor.

Last night we were well into our third mile when we agreed that far from believing there will be a 'triple dip', there was every chance that the 'double dip' never happened after all! You see Gross Domestic Product (GDP) “statistics” are like Liberal Democrats, they are unusual; you read them and believe them but for months and even years after they’re published, they can be changed. Here’s what the Office for National Statistics ONS have said about GDP recently.

I. The ONS calculated their “preliminary estimate” of the GDP for Q4 2011 as a -0.2% fall and published this in January 2012.

II. The following quarter, the ONS calculated their “preliminary estimate” of GDP for Q1 2012 as a -0.2% fall thus technically completing the definition of a recession as two quarters of declining GDP. At the same time they also announced that they had “revised” their previous estimate of the Q4 2011 GDP as -0.3%.

III. In July 2012, the ONS published their preliminary estimate of GDP for the next quarter, Q2 2012. This was the big one as GDP was estimated to have fallen significantly in that quarter with a published change of -0.7%, this also completed three successive quarters of GDP decline and seems to put the nail in the coffin of George Osborne’s fiscal rectitude.  At the same time though both of the previous 'quarters' “estimates”' were revised, Q4 2011 was revised downwards to -0.4% and Q1 2012 was also revised downwards to -0.3%.

Now at the time there was significant commentary from various esteemed economists who didn’t believe these figures (other than that David Blanchflower fella who screamed schadenfreude); the general consensus was that the economy was growing marginally and was flat at worst.  But the point to note is that those statistics keep changing and so the intelligent question to ask is where are they now?

IV. The latest GDP figures were published last week, they can be read here (table A2 on page 45, Chained Volume Measures). The BBC provided a helpful commentary and chart on them which can be found here.

There are two key points to note:

I. The latest revision of the GDP figures has them as:

Q4 2011:               -0.1%
Q1 2012:               -0.1%
Q2 2012:               -0.4%

II. These figures were revised versus the previous publication three months earlier which showed:

Q4 2011:               -0.3%
Q1 2012:               -0.2%
Q2 2012:               -0.4%

So all that is needed for George Osborne’s “double dip recession” to be erased from history is for one number to change. If Q1 2012 is revised to 0% then bingo - no double dip.

That isn't to say all things in the economic race track are going as fast as want, but like Mr Taylor and I, we're headed in the right direction.

Obvious credit to some of the technical data here goes to Mr. Taylor.

Sunday, 17 March 2013


by Colin Bloom

One of my favourite writers is Eric Arthur Blair; known by his more famous pen name George Orwell. For me his 1940's books Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four remain penetrating and sagacious examples of the power of words.

Ironically, I first read both books in 1984 and every Easter I re-read both novels with increasing enthusiasm. Why? Because without fail I learn something new and am reminded again of why I hold many of my political ideologies. I think people like me should read these books as warnings; sadly it feels like too many people of influence must be reading them as guide books. In my musings to come, I daresay these points will be revisited.

Over the years I have given away so many copies of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four that I have taken to buying up second-hand copies from charity shops. Knowing that with all the fervency of an end-times preacher, they will be pressed into the hands of some unsuspecting dinner guest, relative or window cleaner with the exhortation to "Read this! The end is nigh!"

Last year a friend suggested that I flirt with breaking the duopsony of my Easter reading trysts and add Orwell's 1946 book of essays 'Why I Write'. This literary beauty immediately caught my eye, seduced me, and is now beckoning me into her chamber for a second time. Time to musk up...

So as I start my own journey into inking my fingers some more, I wanted to set down the six rules that Orwell gives in Why I Write with the hope that I can stick with his advice.

  1. Never use a metaphor, simile or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  2. Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  3. If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  4. Never use the passive where you can use the active.
  5. Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  6. Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Obviously the views expressed on this blog are my own, they might not always accord with organisations I work with or friends and loved ones that I break bread with. But so far as it depends on me, I will try and live at peace with everyone.

Feedback and comments are welcome and encouraged, but this is my blog, so I will remove anything I think is unhelpful.