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Stasis isn’t a good look for an economy – nor a civilisation

Summary:
The Public Accounts Committee tells us that losses on lending to Greensill could have been avoided: Taxpayer losses linked to the collapse of Greensill Capital could have been avoided if the state-owned British Business Bank had not conducted "woefully inadequate" due diligence and the Treasury had shared more information, a damning report has found.The Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises public sector spending, has said the bank was "insufficiently curious" about where the money it lent was going and accepted too much information provided by Greensill in its application for Covid support scheme cash at face value.It’s entirely possible to avoid direct losses by the simple expedient of never doing anything. That does then raise the risk of suffering significant losses from not

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The Public Accounts Committee tells us that losses on lending to Greensill could have been avoided:

Taxpayer losses linked to the collapse of Greensill Capital could have been avoided if the state-owned British Business Bank had not conducted "woefully inadequate" due diligence and the Treasury had shared more information, a damning report has found.

The Public Accounts Committee, which scrutinises public sector spending, has said the bank was "insufficiently curious" about where the money it lent was going and accepted too much information provided by Greensill in its application for Covid support scheme cash at face value.

It’s entirely possible to avoid direct losses by the simple expedient of never doing anything. That does then raise the risk of suffering significant losses from not having done anything. The balance between an economy, or civilisation, in complete stasis and one where everything done is an entire and whole mistake and waste being one that has to be struck. For that stasis isn’t a good place to be.

So, we’re willing to cut a certain amount of slack here. The entire point of those covid loans schemes was that they were being done in an emergency. So, doing it right now was more important than making sure that every pound was being sent to entirely and wholly the right place. As with, say, sending out food in a famine. We’d all far prefer that some greedy guts got two portions of beans, everyone got one, than a more careful approach where most got one and some none. Sometimes just flooding the zone is the right answer.

At which point, to return to our more general view of governance. The British civil service, the British government, has proven itself incompetent at the task of handing out free money. We’d better, therefore, stop asking them to do the difficult things like planning how to save the planet, planning how the economy should work, planning the type of cars we should use, planning, in short, how to bring peace and light to the Earth. Because if they can’t get the first line of the cheque right, the bit just after the “Pay to the order of” then why would we trust them with anything else? Or even ask them to do anything else?

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Tim Worstall
Tim Worstall is a British-born writer and Senior Fellow of the Adam Smith Institute. Worstall is a regular contributor to Forbes and the Register. He has also written for the Guardian, the New York Times, PandoDaily, the Daily Telegraph blogs, the Times, and The Wall Street Journal. In 2010 his blog was listed as one of the top 100 UK political blogs by Total Politics.

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