In the current political climate, the most interesting and insightful analysis of recent events often comes from those who have been at the centre of political decision-making during tumultuous times.
Sir Vince Cable, former Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills among other positions, spent his career as a Liberal Democrat MP working with some of the most prominent figures in British government. Perhaps most notably, David Cameron and Theresa May, with whom he often found himself in difficult discussion with.
In a lecture entitled ‘Economics in a post-crisis, post-Brexit world’, Cable focused on the impact of the financial crisis on Britain in comparison to the wider world, conveying the links between economic challenges and political actions both within Westminster and without. He detailed the extent of the damage to the UK after 2008, due to its highly concentrated banking system, whilst comparing it to the similar effects felt worldwide. However, Cable pointed out that the “economic heart attack” which this country suffered was not felt as harshly in nations, such as the United States. This was a key point of interest for many in the audience, who then questioned the recently-inaugurated President Trump’s somewhat contradictory promises to improve unemployment, considering America’s “miracle” recovery immediately following the crash.
Sir Cable went on to address other uncertainties regarding the apparent move towards an “anti-globalisation” frame of mind, after the European Referendum and the rise of candidates advocating for a decline in global governance. Yet, the veteran politician emphasised his view that there are few positives to an increasing anti-globalisation sentiment, suggesting that the loss of an “open system” and “global commons” could wreak disaster in other important areas, such as climate change policy.
Going even further, Cable remarked that the pattern of economic conflict preceding military clashes has to be contemplated moving forward.
When commenting on the future, the lecture included a disclaimer that whilst Britain’s financial situation has improved over the past 10 years, the concerns are by no means over. Cable referenced a “radical uncertainty” which still makes it difficult for investments to be placed, as well as an overhang of debt after the splurge in borrowing.
The unprecedented nature of the economics which Cable spoke of gave a glimpse into the next few years of worldwide growth, and its accompanying ambiguity. Indeed, this guest lecture was a sobering reminder that whilst headline-grabbing political scenes may hold our attention, the importance of the economic reform and success of large powers cannot be understated.