Here’s an early Christmas present

In five week’s time you’ll be groaning as the festive season plays havoc with your waistline. You are probably saying to yourself: “This year is different: I’ll watch my weight.” But you won’t and on 2 January 2014 you’ll be 3 -7 pounds heavier.

To take your mind off this coming challenge here’s an early Xmas competition with a marvellous prize. Answer the following question in a few words:

What has the Coalition Government achieved in the last twelve months?”

Possible answers include

a) nothing

b) controlled inflation

c) borrowed enough to keep Government expenditure at £720 billion.

To be honest, I’ve no idea. Our economy is still failing to generate supply side revenues. We are relying on the money markets as much as ever. SMEs remain neglected and the equity markets are nowhere near to the 2005 – 2008 levels.

There is one other answer. It actually doesn’t matter what the Coalition Government does as evidenced by a series of polls showing that the public are less and less interested in politics.

The answer lies in economic cycles as championed by Friedrich Hayek. The ‘ups’ are too much and the ‘downs’ are too severe. In the middle is a short period when currencies reflect their true value. Hayek wrote much of his theory with John Maynard Keynes in mind.

There was, however, another economist who articulated the subject. Bob Beckman was a libidinous and, at times, mad American who, during the Thatcher privatisation period, made his name as a radio broadcaster. At one time his dog chose the shares he punted on air (having bought them the day before): the Labrador out-performed the market.

Beckman, like many a wayward genius did write a brilliant book. ‘The Downwave: surviving the second great depression’: Milestone Publications (1983) is as readable today as it ever was. His hemline theory – girl’s skirts go up and down reflecting prosperity – will amuse you. But Beckman also brilliantly describes the economic cycle.

I will send my copy of Bob’s book to the first person who can tell me what the Coalition Government has achieved this year. I suspect it will stay on my book shelf alongside ‘The Seven Day New Year Diet.’

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