The $3trn question

The world’s consumers are sitting on a pile of cash. Will they spend it?

Households look set to power the economic recovery—especially in America


THE ECONOMIC controls implemented during the second world war make today’s restrictions on restaurants and football stadiums look lax. 

In America the government rationed everything from coffee to shoes and forbade the production of fridges and bicycles. 

In 1943 its entire automobile industry sold only 139 cars. 

Two years later the war ended, and a consumer-led boom ensued. Americans put to use the personal savings they had accumulated in wartime. 

By 1950 carmakers were producing more than 8m vehicles a year.

Governments today are slowly easing lockdowns, as vaccines reduce hospital­isations and deaths from covid-19. Attention is turning to the likely shape of the economic recovery. 

The big question is whether or not the rich world can repeat the post-war trick, with pent-up savings powering a rapid bounce-back.

Households have certainly accumulated lots of cash. 

The Economist has gathered data on personal saving—the difference between post-tax income from all sources and consumer spending—for 21 rich countries. 

Had the pandemic not happened, households would probably have stashed away $3trn in the first nine months of 2020. In fact they saved $6trn. 

That implies “excess saving” of about $3trn—a tenth of annual consumer spending in those countries. 

Households in some places have built up bigger cash piles than in others (see chart 1). 

In America excess savings may soon exceed 10% of GDP, in part because of President Joe Biden’s $1.9trn stimulus plan, which passed the Senate on March 6th.


Households do not usually save on such a scale during recessions. For one thing, their incomes usually fall, as their pay is cut or they lose their jobs. 

But governments in the rich world have spent 5% of their combined GDP on furlough schemes, unemployment benefits and stimulus cheques during the pandemic. 

As a result, household incomes have actually risen in the past year. 

At the same time, lockdowns have reduced opportunities to spend.

What will consumers do with the cash? 

If they were to spend it all in one go, rich-world GDP growth would probably exceed 10% in 2021, a figure so heady it would put the post-war recovery to shame. (It would probably also generate a surge in inflation.) 

At the other extreme, households could spend none of their savings, perhaps if they anticipated that their tax payments would eventually have to rise in order to pay for the enormous stimulus packages.

The reality will be somewhere in between. 

Research by JPMorgan Chase, a bank, suggests that in many rich countries consumption will soon rebound to near its pre-pandemic level, powering a strong global recovery. 

Goldman Sachs, another bank, reckons that in America the spending of excess savings will add two percentage points to GDP growth in the year after full reopening. 

That points to a fairly rapid recovery in both output and employment. 

On March 9th the OECD, a rich-country think-tank, upgraded its forecast for GDP growth for the G20 group of countries to 6.2% in 2021, arguing that household savings represented “pent-up demand”.

Such calculations are highly uncertain, however, and not only because there are few precedents apart from the second world war. 

Two factors matter: how the accumulated pots of cash are distributed across households; and whether people treat those pots as income or as wealth.

Take distribution first. 

There seems little doubt that in all rich countries wealthier people have accumulated much of the excess savings. 

They have been the least likely to lose work. 

A big share of their spending is discretionary, say on holidays or meals out; and it is many of these services that have been shut down during the pandemic. 

A large chunk of savings in the hands of the rich limits the potential for a post-lockdown spending bonanza because, the evidence suggests, they have a lower propensity to spend what they earn.

Yet the pro-rich skew in savings varies across countries. 

In many, low-income folk will not have any excess savings to spend, even once lockdowns end. 

During the pandemic the poorest quarter of European households have been half as likely to increase their savings as the richest. 

In Britain the worst-off fifth say they have saved less during the pandemic than before. 

The poorest Canadians failed to build any nest-eggs during the pandemic.

America looks different. 

Its fiscal stimulus has been unusually generous. 

A third round of cheques, for $1,400, will soon be sent to most adults. 

Top-ups to unemployment benefits have ensured that many people who lost work have earned more from the state than they had in their jobs. 

The result is that low-income Americans may have saved even more than the rich, relative to their incomes. 

A new study by the JPMorgan Chase Institute found that in late December the poorest Americans’ bank balances were some 40% higher than the year before, compared with about 25% higher for the richest (see chart 2). 

The poorest half have seen their liquid assets rise in value by 11% in the past year, nearly twice the increase for the richest 1%. Low- and moderate-income earners are more likely to spend their savings once the economy reopens, fuelling the recovery.


There is greater uncertainty around the second factor influencing the recovery: whether households perceive their cash piles as income or wealth. 

This is not merely a semantic distinction. 

Many studies find that households are more likely to boost spending in response to an increase in income (say, a pay rise) than they are for an increase in their wealth (say, a rise in the value of their house). 

Households have built up excess savings in different ways in different countries. 

Those in Britain and the euro zone have done so by spending less. 

People are unlikely to treat this as “additional income”, argued Gertjan Vlieghe, a member of the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee, in a recent speech. 

In America and Japan, by contrast, excess savings are a result of higher income owing to stimulus payouts, not spending cutbacks. 

In that situation, Mr Vlieghe said, excess saving “can more reasonably be interpreted as ‘additional income’”, which consumers may be happier to spend.¿

And that points to a striking contrast with the post-war boom. 

America’s recovery was impressive enough, but Europe’s was even more so, with GDP growth running 50% faster throughout the 1950s. 

This time is different. 

As the pandemic wanes it is America, where more stimulus is in place and where consumers are likelier to spend it, that seems set to leave the rest of the rich world in its dust. 

The Fed’s Most Convenient Lie: A CPI Charade

By Matthew Piepenburg


Despite a penchant for double-speak that would make a politician blush, the Fed tells us that its primary focus is unemployment not inflation.

Let me remind readers, however, that an openly nervous Mr. Powell came out in the summer of 2020 with a specific, as well as headline-making, agenda to “allow” higher inflation above the 2% rate.

This “new inflation direction” ignored the larger irony that the Fed had been unsuccessfully “targeting” 2% inflation for years before changing verbs from “targeting” to “allowing.”

Such magical word choices reveal a critical skunk in the Fed’s semantic wood pile.

If, for example, the Fed was honestly “targeting” inflation to no success for years, how could Powell suddenly have the public ability to then “allow” more of what he failed to achieve before, as if inflation was as simple to dial up and down as a thermostat in one’s home?

Dishonest Inflation Reporting

The blunt answer is that the Fed, in sync with the fiction writers at the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), reports consumer inflation as honestly as Al Capone reported taxable income.

In short: The Fed has been lying about (i.e. downplaying) inflation for years.

As we’ve shown in many prior reports, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) scale used by the BLS to measure U.S. consumer price inflation is an open charade, allowing the BLS, and hence the Fed, to basically “report” inflation however they see fit—at least for now.

If, for example, the weighting methodologies hitherto used by the Fed to measure CPI inflation in the 1980’s were used today, then US, CPI-measured inflation would be closer to 10% not the reported 2%.


Concerned about by rising consumer costs, the Fed simply tweaked its CPI scale for measuring the same, effectively downplaying rising costs like a fat-camp scale which downplayed the significance of say… beer, chocolate or pizza.

In short, the Fed didn’t like the old CPI scale for measuring inflation, and so they simply replaced it with one in which 2+2 =2.

But why all the mathematical gymnastics and creative writing at the current BLS and Fed?

What explains the ongoing double-speak wherein the Fed wishes to target higher inflation yet simultaneously and deliberately mis-reports it at far lower levels?

Necessity: The Mother of Invention.

The Fed, in deep need of keeping its IOU-driven (i.e debt-driven) façade of “recovery” in motion, has no choice but to invent a respectably controlled (i.e. LOW) CPI inflation rate in order to make US Treasury bonds look even moderately attractive to others.

After all, the US lives on those IOU’s. They need to look pretty.

If, however, the more honest and much higher 10% inflation rate were honestly reported on an honest CPI scale, the inflation-adjusted yield on the US 10-Year Treasury would be negative 8%–which hardly makes it a pretty bond for the world to either admire or buy.

That’s a problem for Uncle Sam.

And so the Fed invents a CPI inflation number that is less embarrassing than reality. It’s just that simple.

By the way, if real yields on the US 10-Year were honestly reported at -8%, gold would be ripping to the moon right now (it skyrocketed in the 1970’s when real yields were -4%).

This is because gold rises fastest the faster real yields go negative.

We all know, however, that the Fed (and the bullion banks it serves) are terrified of rising gold prices, as a rising gold price confirms the absolute failure of their monetary policies and the open, and ongoing, debasement of the US Dollar.

This further explains why the world’s central and bullion banks openly manipulate the paper gold price in the COMEX markets on a daily basis.

Furthermore, given that the only thing that seems to be “healthy” in the US today is the biggest stock and bond market bubble in its history, the Fed wants to keep that bubble growing rather than naturally popping.

And toward this end, the Fed may be desperate, dishonest and delusional, but they aren’t completely stupid.

They know, for example, that for the last 140 years, ALL (and I mean ALL) of the stock market’s gains came during disinflationary periods, not inflationary periods—which is all the more reason for the Fed to lie about inflation and keep the bubble rising.


So, please don’t fall for Powell’s double-speak that he’s more concerned about focusing on employment than inflation.

The unspoken truth is that Powell (as well as Yellen, Bernanke et al) have been absolutely obsessed with inflation for years. They simply mis-report it (i.e. lie), as the dollar’s purchasing power continues its slow fall toward the floor of history.

Having Your Cake and Eating it Too.

What the Fed has been doing ever since Greenspan (the veritable “Patient Zero” of the current global $280T debt disaster) is very clever yet extremely toxic, as well as openly duplicitous.

Specifically, the Fed now prints over $120B per month (to buy $80B in unwanted Treasury bonds and another $40B in unwanted, toxic MBS paper) with no apparent inflationary effect (despite the fact that inflation is defined by money supply) beyond its 2% “allowance.”

Such extreme money creation openly dilutes the USD to inflate away US debt with increasingly diluted dollars, now a desperate as well as deliberate Fed policy.

But by simultaneously and dishonestly mis-reporting CPI inflation as they dilute the dollar, the Fed can inflate away US debt without having to make the inflation-adjusted yields on Treasury bonds appear too embarrassingly ugly (i.e. grotesquely negative) for circulation and consumption.

Such open fraud, of course, allows the Fed to have its cake (debased currencies to inflate away debt) and eat it too (by under-reporting the otherwise disastrous CPI inflationary consequences of such a desperate policy.)

In short, by putting lipstick on the pig of what would otherwise by highly negative real yields on an openly bogus Treasury bonds if the CPI inflation rate were accurately reported, the Fed can continue to live on more debt, more IOU’s and more dishonesty.

Such veiled inflationary dishonesty allows the U.S. to effectively extend and pretend as the US credit market marches forward like a veritable Frankenstein—that is dead, yet still marching, arms outstretched and moaning like a beast.

But Even Frankenstein Eventually Dies

Perhaps you’ve noticed that the bond market, despite all of Uncle Fed’s (and Uncle Sam’s) support, has been unhappy of late…

Bond prices are falling, and hence yields are slowly rising, yet again. Consider the seven-year yield:


Needless to say, the Fed (sitting on top of $30T in public debt) doesn’t like rising yields, as they force rising rates, and rising rates, which reflect the cost of money, scares the hell out of debt-soaked markets (and debt-soaked sovereigns) like those currently pretending “recovery” in the land of the free (but not free markets) …

Thus, as in the repo markets of late 2019, the Fed is slowly losing control of the narrative as well as the bond market, which means we can expect more money printing to buy those otherwise Frankenstein bonds in order to keep their yields down (or “controlled”)—the very definition of Yield Curve Control, or “YCC.”

But such yield (and hence interest rate) control, as we’ve written elsewhere, is a dangerous game of Russian roulette. The Fed may play for a while, but eventually there’s a natural market and currency-killing bullet aimed at its head.

That is, the only way to postpone a fatal rate spike is for the Fed to print more fiat dollars to buy more unwanted bond debt.

By extension then, the only way to keep bond and debt-soaked markets alive is to destroy the nation’s underlying currency by “over-printing” the same.

In short, the inflated markets may live under a YCC blade, but the currencies, well..they die by the same sword.

That of course, is having your cake, but not eating it…

And the Pablum Continues

Meanwhile, the pundits, FOMC propaganda ministers and BLS fiction writers continue to spew their theories and projections of a deflationary rather than inflationary future.

These peddlers of the surreal still prattle on about year-over-year CPI inflation comparisons, even noting that annualized CPI inflation may just break the 2% marker for the first time in almost 10 years.

This is almost comical, if it was not otherwise so tragic.

Why?

Because the entire inflation-deflation discussion, as well as data reports and projections, are ultimately meaningless if the very scale used to measure the CPI inflation is itself as bogus as that 42nd Street Rolex to which I so often refer.

And so, let the madness continue, let the creative writing, clever math and the equally distortive projections and pundits spin their tales about inflation “data” as we simply stare at the rising costs of health care, education, housing, stock and bond valuations or even the tolls on the George Washington Bridge.

In other words, if you want to see honest inflation, just walk out your front door—it’s everywhere, except that is, the open joke that is the CPI inflation scale.

Meanwhile, of course, the Fed’s money printing and artificial rate suppression via YCC will continue, as will that Frankenstein otherwise known as the US credit market, so essential to the ongoing survival of that massive bubble otherwise known as the US stock market.

The Fed, alas, is forward guiding, as well as dishonestly managing, more of the same debt-and-print madness masquerading as policy.

The Fed: Gold’s Best Friend

For owners of physical precious metals, of course, they can only bide their time and smile, as that same Fed is ultimately, and ironically, their best friend.

More money creation, just means more debased dollars, and more debased dollars just means more tailwinds for gold, as per the one graph which demands repeating over and over…


Eventually, once the jig is up regarding the current inflation lie and hence the equal lie about the real (i.e. “inflation”-adjusted) yield on Treasuries as well as the real (and massive) over-valuation of US stocks and bonds, the entire Fed experiment (of using debt to solve a debt problem) comes to a brutal and disorderly end.

That is, markets nosedive and faith in already diluted currencies does the same.

This is an ending which no one can time (it’s hard to fight a desperate Fed) but for which anyone can prepare by simply understanding the current and historical role of precious metals in an open setting of dying currencies and unsustainable debt.

Thereafter, the equally desperate “re-set” compliments of the very players who brought markets to and over the debt cliff which they alone created will likely come, as already telegraphed by the IMF under the illusory name of Bretton Woods II.

New debts will be created, and new digital currencies (redeemable only by central banks) backed in some measure by gold rather than more fiat coins, will likely become a new normal.

That, or the entire central banking system will be revealed for the open failure that it was, is and will be, as math-savvy historical figures from David Hume and Thomas Jefferson to Ludwig von Mises had warned years ago.

“Reset” or no “reset,” currencies will continue their slow death spiral, and gold, always patient, always REAL rather than virtual, will continue its rise above the semantic dust and financial rubble of a broken banking system and failed monetary experiment driven by delusion, myth and alas, blatant dishonesty, of which the CPI inflation scale is just one example among so many.

When Vaccination Is a “Crime”

Hasan Gokal, the medical director of the Harris County, Texas COVID-19 response team, refused to let a vial of vaccine expire and sought out eligible recipients before the doses would have to be discarded. For his sound ethical reasoning, he was fired and faces criminal prosecution.

Peter Singer


MELBOURNE – On December 29 last year, Hasan Gokal, the medical director of the COVID-19 response team in Harris County, Texas (which includes Houston, the fourth-largest city in the United States by population), was supervising the administration of the Moderna vaccine, mostly to emergency workers. 

The vaccine comes in vials containing eleven doses. 

A vial, once opened, expires in six hours and unused vaccine must then be thrown away.

On that December day, a patient arrived just before closing time, so a nurse had to open a new vial, leaving Gokal with ten doses. 

He offered them to the health-care workers and to two police officers still on the site, but they had either been vaccinated, or declined. 

He called a colleague whose parents and in-laws were eligible – anyone over 65 or with a medical condition that increases the risk from the coronavirus could then be vaccinated – but they weren’t available.

Gokal started calling people from his phone’s contacts to ask if they knew anyone eligible who wanted to be vaccinated and could come to his home that evening. 

When he arrived home, two people were waiting there, and he vaccinated them. 

Then he drove to homes where he knew there were eligible people, and vaccinated five more.

Meanwhile he kept calling, and three more agreed to come to his home. 

That would have exhausted the supply, but one canceled. 

Gokal’s wife has pulmonary sarcoidosis, a lung condition that made her eligible to be vaccinated. 

“I didn’t intend to give this to you,” he said he told her, “but in a half-hour I’m going to have to dump this down the toilet.” 

Fifteen minutes before the last dose would expire, he vaccinated her.

At work the next morning, Gokal told his supervisor what had happened, and reported the names of those who had received ten doses. 

A few days later, he was summoned by his supervisor, and told that he should have returned the remaining doses, even if they would then have expired and been thrown away. 

For failing to do so, he was dismissed.

Two weeks later, the Harris County district attorney, Kim Ogg, charged him with theft and with breaking county protocols. Gokal’s lawyer requested a copy of the protocols that his client was accused of breaking. 

He was told that they did not exist.

A judge dismissed the charges, saying that the district attorney had failed to show that Gokal, as the medical adviser for the county’s COVID-19 response, did not have the right to decide whom to vaccinate. 

Ogg has said that she will try again.

Some moral systems treat rules as inviolable. The Roman Catholic Church, for example, holds that to take an innocent human life is always wrong.

It sometimes happens that during childbirth, the baby’s skull becomes lodged in the vagina, and all attempts to dislodge it fail. In this situation, if nothing is done, both the mother and the baby will die. 

Until the development of modern obstetrics, the only way to prevent that double tragedy was for a doctor to crush the baby’s skull. The baby would die, but the woman would live. In Catholic countries, that procedure was prohibited because it was the direct killing of the baby. As a result, women who could have been saved died.

Utilitarianism takes the opposite view. Its founder, Jeremy Bentham, would ask of any law, custom, or moral rule, “What is the use of it?” By that, he meant, what does it do to increase happiness or reduce suffering? 

Bentham and his followers applied that test to a wide range of laws and institutions: the privileges of the aristocracy, the slave trade, restrictions on who could vote, victimless crimes such as homosexuality, and the subordinate status of women.

Rules have an important place, even for utilitarians. John Stuart Mill thought rules embodied the wisdom and experience of past generations about what kind of conduct is likely to bring about a better life for all. 

Nevertheless, for Mill, rules are not absolute. “To save a life,” he wrote, “it may not only be allowable, but a duty, to steal.”

We will never know if one of Gokal’s ten injections saved a life, but they surely increased the peace of mind of those who might otherwise have had to wait days or weeks to be vaccinated. In any case, he did not steal. 

Obviously, using the doses to vaccinate people had better consequences than throwing them away – or rather, it would have had better consequences, if Gokal had not been dismissed from his job and threatened with prosecution.

One thing we can learn from the injustice done to Gokal is the value of sensible rules to guide vaccination administrators. 

In Los Angeles, standby lines outside clinics, though unofficial, have been accepted by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which has told health-care providers not to throw away unused doses. 

In Israel, people who would not normally be due to be vaccinated can register to receive a text message if a nearby vaccination center has vaccines that would otherwise be wasted. 

As these examples show, it is not difficult to think of something better than throwing away potentially life-saving vaccines.

The other lesson to be learned is that it is wrong to punish people who do their best in the absence of clear rules, or in situations that fall outside the range of possibilities contemplated by those who drew up the prevailing rules. 

In these situations, people should be encouraged to exercise their own judgment to bring about the best consequences for all.


Peter Singer is Professor of Bioethics at Princeton University and founder of the non-profit organization The Life You Can Save. His books include Animal Liberation, Practical Ethics, The Ethics of What We Eat (with Jim Mason), Rethinking Life and Death, The Point of View of the Universe, co-authored with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek, The Most Good You Can Do, Famine, Affluence, and Morality, One World Now, Ethics in the Real World, Why Vegan?, and Utilitarianism: A Very Short Introduction, also with Katarzyna de Lazari-Radek. In April, W.W. Norton will publish his new edition of Apuleius’s The Golden Ass. In 2013, he was named the world's third "most influential contemporary thinker" by the Gottlieb Duttweiler Institute.

The UK’s ‘new Tory’ economics are different but insufficient

Rishi Sunak’s Budget reverses some Conservative principles but fails on the vision post-pandemic Britain needs

Martin Wolf 

© James Ferguson


In his response to the Covid-19 crisis, Rishi Sunak, chancellor of the exchequer, has shown himself to be flexible and pragmatic. 

This Budget reinforces that impression. 

But it tells us four more important things. One is that the pandemic is going to leave a nasty long-term legacy. 

Another is that Sunak wants to hold on to the mantle of fiscal sobriety. 

A third is that this government is abandoning the economic ideas it clung on to for so long. 

The last is that the government has no growth strategy. 

One might describe this as old-fashioned realistic Conservatism. 

An alternative label might be defeatism.

As expected, despite the success of the vaccine rollout, Sunak has had to extend the expensive support of the economy. 

If government feels obliged to compel people to stay at home and businesses to close, it has to compensate them. 

Thus, the furlough scheme will be extended to September, as will support for the self-employed. 

The universal credit uplift of £20 a week will also continue for a further six months. 

In all, Sunak has raised the pandemic-related support to households, businesses and public services by a further £44.3bn, so taking its cost to £344bn or 16 per cent of gross domestic product.

In all, the pandemic is certainly among the most devastating shocks experienced by the UK in peacetime. The human toll is the most tragic. 

But the economic cost is also huge. In 2020, GDP per head shrank by 10.4 per cent, the largest in 300 years. 

The Office for Budget Responsibility also forecasts public sector net borrowing at 16.9 per cent of GDP in 2020-21, a level never before seen in peacetime. 

It is forecast still to be 10.3 per cent of GDP in 2021-22.


Unfortunately, despite a somewhat better outlook than expected last November, the economic shock is still forecast to be not just deep, which we knew, but enduring, which we feared. 

Thus, the OBR assumes that the pandemic will lower output by 3 per cent relative to its pre-pandemic path in the medium term. 

Alas, that pre-pandemic forecast path was already pretty poor. 

In sum, after 4 per cent in 2021 and 7.3 per cent in 2022, economic growth is forecast to slow to 1.6-1.7 per cent annually.

A permanent loss in output was expected to deliver a permanent fiscal hole. 

But, in one respect, Sunak remains a Conservative chancellor. 

He insists on a return to fiscal sobriety. 

The measures he proposes are forecast to contain the pandemic-induced jump in public sector net debt to no more than 25 per cent of GDP between 2019-20 and 2023-24. 

The debt ratio is then forecast to fall from 110 per cent of GDP in 2023-24 to 104 per cent in 2025-26. 

The gap between current receipts and managed expenditure is also forecast to be cut to 2.8 per cent of GDP by 2025-26. 

At that point, the government would again be borrowing just for investment.


To achieve this, taxes are forecast to reach 35 per cent of GDP in 2025-26, the highest level since the late 1960s, when Roy Jenkins was chancellor. 

The last time the tax ratio was much higher than this was after the second world war. 

This is one key respect in which this government is indeed different from its predecessors. 

George Osborne achieved almost all his post-financial crisis fiscal consolidation via cuts in spending. This time, taxes will rise instead.

More startlingly, it is not just any taxes, but taxes on business that will jump. 

The rise in the headline rate of corporation tax from 19 to 25 per cent is a remarkable reversal of Osborne’s cuts from 28 to 19 per cent. 

Even more astonishingly, this is the first increase in the headline rate since 1974. 

The changes are expected to raise £17bn (some 0.6 per cent of GDP), the bulk of the revenue increase planned by Sunak. 

Pursuing consolidation this way is a startling reversal of usual Tory policy.

Politically, the package seems adroit. 

Lobbies for lower public spending and lower business taxes are hardly powerful now. 

But the question is whether the strategy is sufficient to confront the huge challenges facing post-Brexit and post-pandemic Britain. 

The answer, I fear, is that it is not.


In the short run, the main stimulus to recovery, apart from the support package itself, is the two-year temporary 130 per cent “super-allowance” for capital spending. 

At most, this will bring investment forward. 

Worse, in the long run, as the OBR states: “The increase in the corporation tax rate will increase the cost of capital, lowering the desired capital stock and business investment in the medium term.” 

A better arrangement would have been to raise both the tax rate and capital allowances permanently. But that would not have raised the revenue the chancellor seeks.

There is an obvious doubt whether the recovery will be strong enough to reduce the long-term scarring below what the OBR now expects. But far more important is where future growth will come from. 

There are a number of gestures in the direction of “levelling up”. 

But none of them looks big enough to change the overall picture, which is of a country with huge gaps in regional productivity, poor productivity performance and low rates of investment. 

A UK Infrastructure Bank with capital of £12bn will not amount to much. 

Where is the ambition for investment? 

Where is the plan for environmental policy? 

Where, for that matter, is the discussion of carbon pricing?

After the massive response to the pandemic, the needed long-term vision for a country facing an uncertain future is absent. 

If the one big innovation is an unexpectedly large tax on corporations, what is the plan for economic growth? 

These are not the Conservatives of old. 

But these new ones, alas, lack bold ideas.