Fraser Nelson

Spectator Inquiry: questions for Lord Lawson | 24 February 2009

Spectator Inquiry: questions for Lord Lawson | 24 February 2009
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Thanks for your suggestions on what to ask Lord Lawson, who will be the first ‘expert witness’ on our wiki-inquiry into the recession. The premise behind this whole exercise is that we can, with the internet, harness your collective wisdom – and take this inquiry in directions it couldn’t go on its own (or if powered solely by journalists). Here is a long list of questions for him, which we’ll hone down later. All other thoughts gratefully received.

1. If you were Chancellor the day before Northern Rock went bust, how would you have handled the situation? Granted, you wouldn’t have started from here. But did the banks have to be nationalised, as they were?

2. Nicholas Sarkozy has said that Britain moved too far towards services over the past decade and has too little manufacturing – a trend, of course, which started with you as Chancellor. Has it gone too far?

3. There was a housing bubble when you were Chancellor. Did you notice it at the time – and, if so, what warning signs were there? What do you make of Alan Greenspan’s idea that bubbles are not noticeable at the time and even if they are there isn’t much a central bank can do to burst them?

4. Can the Treasury become so fixated on collecting a certain tax – ie, stamp duty – that it can become blind to a bubble?

5. To what extent did the recession stem an over-reaction to that 1990's recession – fighting the last war, and judging that inflation was low everything must be okay?

6. Was it difficult for you to see the trouble being stored up by his policy of shadowing the D-Mark in the late 1980's?

7. Do we have anything to learn from overseas bank regulation?

To what extent do you think the green agenda will become an obstacle to economic recovery?

9. What is the best thing the government can do now to foster an economic recovery? We will have to balance the budget at some point: are tax rises or spending cuts the answer – or should we keep on borrowing?

10. How can we better align risk, reward and ownership over the long term? Particularly in the banking sector where employees have the unique ability to 'create' money and award themselves bonuses out of this created money.

11. To what extent were the markets responsible for the US sub-prime crisis, and to what extent was it the wrong type of regulation?

What are your top three causes of the recession? and could you name three remedies?

13. Would any of the bodies which predated the tripartite regulatory system - such as the Board of Banking Supervision - have been more likely to spot the seeds of the crisis?  Should the opposition parties have pushed more vigorously for these bodies, or elements of them, to be retained?

14. To what extent have measures to stave off the dot-com bust contributed to the current situation?

Written byFraser Nelson

Fraser Nelson is the editor of The Spectator. He is also a columnist with The Daily Telegraph, a member of the advisory board of the Centre for Social Justice and the Centre for Policy Studies.

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