If it has been obvious for some time that we are caught up in an extreme financial crisis, the extent of its severity has acquired greater clarity in being described by the Governor of the Bank of England. Never before has the global financial system been so interlinked and integrated, which means that problems in one part of the world are capable of causing severe stress almost everywhere else. We once more face a perfect storm of cascading default, contracting credit and collapsing economic activity.
Yet, despite the parallels, the current situation need not end in the same catastrophe of economic, political and social meltdown as occurred in the 1930s. For most advanced economies, these outcomes are still avoidable. But escaping them is going to require leadership, nerve and collective resolve ”“ things that have so far been in short supply.
The problem is not in Britain ”“ which, despite the appalling legacy of debt left by the last government, is doing most of the right things ”“ but in mainland Europe, where lack of foresight, unwillingness to act, confusion of counsel and lack of clear thinking are indeed everywhere to behold.