If you want an unusual insight into our potential future, take a look at Channel 4’s interview on Thursday with Peter Mandelson (UK’s Business Secretary, very close to Gordon Brown and a key person around the G20 summit).
In this clip, Mandelson comes on around the 12:48 mark (after Peer Steinbruck, the German finance minister, provides some complacent sound bites.)
But the surprising statement comes after the short interview with me (I start at 17:40 approx; Mandelson comes back around 21:38). I have no idea if Mandelson knew this could happen, but Jon Snow (the anchor) goes back to him and asks if he agrees with me that the UK could borrow from the IMF.
The conventional answer, of course, would be something like “under no circumstances.” Instead, Mandelson says the UK won’t be “at the top of the queue” for going to the IMF. Even when pressed, he laughs but refuses to categorically rule out that the UK might need to borrow from the Fund.
And he also clearly articulates the broader G20 strategy vis-a-vis the IMF: destigmatize borrowing. And what could be more helpful, in that regard, than countries such as the UK borrowing when they need assistance (think banking, budget deficit, current account deficit) but before they approach a traditional full-blown crisis situation?
By Simon Johnson