Yes, he did do one good thing:
There is at least one thing we have to thank Gordon Brown for; he resisted pressure from Tony Blair to take Britain into the euro. In one of the lorryload of documents the Treasury produced to assess Brown\’s \”five tests\”, there\’s a brilliant analysis of what European interest rates would have done to the economy. The scenarios are a near perfect description of what happened to Ireland – a housing and development boom of unprecedented velocity followed by a bust of equally devastating magnitude. It might be argued that the UK has conformed to both, but just as slightly tighter policy in the run-up to the crisis perhaps saved us from the outer extremes of the boom, ability to counter the bust with loose money and devaluation has eased the pain of the comedown.
If we\’d gone into the euro we would have gone the way of Ireland.
The single currency has its advantages: the single interest rate not so much. And especially the single interest rate in an economy that has a) much higher levels of house ownership and thus mortgages and b) has mortgages which tend to be on floating rates rather than fixed as in many places on the continent.
The combination of those two means that any specific interest rate change has much greater effects in the UK/Ireland than it does in places like, say, Germany, which has a much larger rental sector and fixed rate mortgages on those privately owned.
Yes, I know, I don\’t want to join the euro at all: think its very existence is a terrible idea (and can see the effects of being locked into it here in Portugal) but for the enthusiasts for joining. Please do try to understand that until these features of the UK housing market are changed, whatever the other benefits you perceive, euro membership is simply insane.