Thursday, 12 March 2009

Can Brown Afford to “hang” with Obama?

For the Prime Minister, yesterday`s comments from President Obama in Washington may be a case of Be careful what you wish for! President Obama stated that countries must take concerted action to revive the global economy and spur on new economic growth. Prior to his trip to the US last week, these are the kind of comments that Gordon Brown had been eager to hear from the US President.

The question Brown now faces, as he heads into the upcoming G20 meeting in April, is can the UK actually afford to take a leading role alongside Obama. As Brown headed to Washington he must have relished the opportunity to be seen by the world as Obama`s partner in saving the global economy! Brown and his top advisors must have thought this would be their ticket to a bump in the polls which would spur the PM and Labour onto a great election victory next year.

The hitch in this plan is that Obama believes the way to save the global economy is to spend, spend, spend – and then spend some more! For us in the UK the cupboard is already bare. Yesterday Alistair Darling started to lay the ground work to prepare us for next month’s budget. Darling signalled that we would not be seeing any new fiscal stimulus plans in the budget and called for restraint. Restraint is something that is in very short supply in Washington these days. On the day that President Obama signed another $420 billion of new spending in law - and before the ink had even dried - there was already talk in Congress of Stimulus 2.0.

This lays the backdrop for the coming G20 amid growing reports of a rift between the US and Europe. There`s no doubt that Brown wants to “hang” with Obama and the cool kids but in the end his pockets will just not be deep enough.

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