Paul Mason: This man reports economics for the BBC does he?

This generation of young, educated people is unique – at least in the post-1945 period: a cohort who can expect to grow up poorer than their parents.

This is simply nonsense. The twat appears ignorant of the effects of economic growth.

Have a look at what the estimates for trend growth are. 2 to 2.25% I think is the current sort of range. This means that in 36 years, ie, roughly the working lifetime of current graduates, that the GDP of the country will double.

Yes, this is real growth, after inflation. And the labour share of income isn\’t going to fall much over that time, not from it\’s current recently depressed levels I doubt. That means that the real incomes of the people in the country will double over said working lifetime.

Having a doubled real income is not the same as being \”poorer\”.

You can lower that trend growth rate if you like, to 1%: that just means the increase in real incomes will be 50% instead of 100%.

Claiming that this generation is going to be poorer than the previous one requires one of two things. Either an assumption that there is going to be no economic growth or it\’s a result of simple and pure ignorant twattery.

Neither of which are great qualifications to be an economics editor at the BBC, are they?

35 thoughts on “Paul Mason: This man reports economics for the BBC does he?”

  1. Paul Mason’s academic qualifications are actually in music and music/special needs teaching. He was a lecturer in music and a writer of musicals before career-shifting to business journalism.

    Still, makes a pleasant change from the usual BBC economics credentials (PPE at Oxford, post-grad at Harvard and dating a senior Labour MP called Ed).

  2. Well, bearing in mind the value of many current day degrees, and the cost of obtaining them, it is likely that many current graduates will land up poorer than their parents with valuable degrees largely paid for by the state.
    The differential in earnings between the graduate and the non graduate will likely narrow or disappear for the majority of subjects, but the degree will still need paying for. Hence there is a good chance of a lot of graduates feeling hard done by- the more so since they have been told throughout their lives that they are brighter than non-graduates.

  3. Tim, could what he says be true if it relates to post-TAX income ? It certainly FEELS that way !

    Alan Douglas

  4. And is he comparing like with like. I hope he isn’t comparing students now with parents now.

    I don’t remember students in my time being pretty well off, definitely not better off than students now. I left college with a huge debt and stayed with my parents and then had to house-share for years before I could set out on my own.

  5. Incisive as ever, Arnald. Tim, I’d say this Mason bloke, being almost as ignorant as Arnald, is ideally qualified to be an economics editor at the BBC.

  6. It is pleasingly predictable that the Beeb would have the last living Marxist in Britain as its Newsnight economics editor.

  7. There is definitely something wrong with economics/finance/politics reporting at the beeb, and replicated elsewhere. The reporting is based on lots of assumptions that are never challenged or even thought about.

    This LIBOR thing, for instance, there’s no actual analysis, however basic, of what Barclays actually did or the actual affect. It’s just BANKS BAD every morning.

    This thing is just another example of basic unquestionng ignorance. The beeb’s not consciously biased, I just really think, however intelligent they are and however many degrees they have, they are all fundamentally stupid.

  8. wait a moment … do you measure a generation’s wealth by its income regardless of the amount of debt it is racking up? Once you adjust GDP for debt I think you paint a very different picture.

  9. “Claiming that this generation is going to be poorer than the previous one requires one of two things. Either an assumption that there is going to be no economic growth or it’s a result of simple and pure ignorant twattery.”

    I’m afraid that’s a false dichotomy. The obvious alternative is that society will get richer, but the wealth will end up in the hands of the older generation rather than the younger. To meet the unfunded state pensions – along with old age care and so-on – the boomers promised each other will beggar their children. Society may get richer, but the liabilities have got bigger faster.

  10. It also depends on the distribution of income across the different age categories tbf. I suspect that Mason sees the shift of wealth from the young to the rich in housing colouring his view. Of course this then presupposes that the young in their turn cannot benefit from similar shifts from their own children.

    At the moment I see no reason not to believe that the next generation will be wealthier.

  11. It would seem he has read and failed to understand the graphs in the FT that shows the most recent cohort of graduates to reach the 25-35 age range is less well off than its immediate predecessor was at the same age, while being better off than earlier cohorts and far better off than their parents. And even that graph sloped upwards!
    His downward-sloping graph assumes falling real wages and no promotion, ever, for the 2012 crop of graduates (or maybe just for those stupid enough to listens to his lectures to the political society at Birmingham University).

  12. Let’s assume for a moment that the statement is true. Why are they going to be poorer?

    …Because a one eyed Scottish idiot, pissed their inheritance up against a wall whilst being lauded by the BBC and others of World beating brilliance….

    ….Meanwhile on the continent, the single currency (to the cheers of the BBC and fellow travellers) led to a massive overspend in the South that will take a generation to correct, unless said currency is given a lethal injection….

    ….Thus our main trading partners will all be poorer for the foreseeable future. But never mind, its all for the sake of the European Project (No omelette without breaking a few EU standard eggs)…

    ….In order to carve out a better future for ourselves, the BBC and other geniuses suggest that we piss another fortune up the wall on bird blenders, cloud controlled panels and battery transportation vehicles…..

    Given that the BBC’s tin foil hat view of the world is so widespread in Westminster, they might actually be right. The youth may be poorer than their parents, the victims of compound stupidity.

  13. It’s perfectly possible for GDP to grow while people get poorer, all that’s required is for population to grow ahead of GDP.

    I’m not saying this will happen, I’m just pointing out that a simultaneous doubling of GDP and population changes nothing.

  14. The irony is that the two things that screw up young people (expensive housing and useless degrees) have little to do with free market capitalism and everything to do with government intervention.

    If a bank lent money to an unemployed 18 year old to buy a luxury like an Alfa Romeo, there would be an outrage, but it’s fine for the government to lend money to an unemployed 18 year old to have a luxury like a degree in Women’s Studies or Art History.

  15. So Much For Subtlety

    It is worse than this knob being only a music teacher – and the writer of a play on the Coal Miners’ Strike. He really is the last Marxist left in Britain. To quote Wikipedia:

    Often rumoured to be an ex-member of the trotskyist Workers’ Power group, he responded to an interviewer in 2011: “‘Look,’ he says, ‘it’s on Wikipedia that I was, so it must be true. It’s fair to say I was a Leftie activist. What my politics are now are very complicated.'”

    And the Workers’ Power group? I challenge anyone to work what the f**k they mean here:

    In 1980 Workers Power abandoned the position that the “Stalinist states” were ‘state capitalist’, seeing this position as an error on the part of Tony Cliff who argued that the USSR was state capitalist, functioning as a giant company which competed on the world market militarily. In that year it co-published “The Degenerated Revolution”[1] which adopted a unique term, that countries other than the USSR (such as those in Eastern Europe and countries such as Cuba) were “degenerate workers states” and “degenerate from birth”, representing a nuance to the Fourth International’s 1948 analysis that the USSR was a ‘degenerated workers state’ while the other countries were ‘deformed workers’ states’

    Our taxes at work.

  16. I’m by no means an economist, just interested in creating wealth, but
    1 Isn’t government activity factored into GDP somewhere?
    2 My personal view is anything government does past the bare essentials causes more harm than good.
    Isn’t it possible you can have GDP growth but the whole lot & more just evaporates in waste. Like digging holes & filling them in might be a growth industry but you still get left with level ground.

  17. Oi, you lot, less of the “what can you expect from a music graduate?” stuff. I’m a music graduate too!

  18. John> GIGO, I’m afraid. Those charts are somewhere between meaningless and misleading. It’s nonsensical for the FT to suggest that the average disposable income of today’s 21 year olds – after tax and living expenses, note – is >£350 per week. That’s utterly ludicrous, equivalent to something like £35-40k a year gross for school-leavers.

    Frankly, any figures which suggest a typical disposable income of more than a few pounds for most young people today doesn’t pass the stink test.

  19. I’m a music graduate too!

    But you’re a music grad whose comments on finance and banking are based on actually having worked in the industry and seen all its manifold and manifest failings up close.

    Not one whose comments are based on having singularly failed to understand the few things Marx got right so have resorted to the Stalinist tendency of killing everybody who thinks you’re a prat.

  20. Frankly, any figures which suggest a typical disposable income of more than a few pounds for most young people today doesn’t pass the stink test.

    Are you sure? Miss S-E is on a minimum wage 3rd sector job and manages her rent, food, runs a car, has more holidays than we ever had (okay, v cheap ones but …) and the usual tweens’ amount of bevvying up. Okay, capital loans have been provided by the banks of M&D and Grandparents, but repayments are there on time.

  21. Can’t agree with you here, Tim. The single most expensive thing most of us pay for in life is a roof over our heads. The same decent-sized house the Boomers were able to buy for a couple of grand cost their kids a quarter of a million. They were able to buy a house on a single income while mum stayed home and looked after the kids; those kids both have to work and still have to buy a poky flat in a shitty area. Quoting GDP figures or growth figures doesn’t change that.

    I don’t think any generation in history has devoted as much energy to pulling up ladders as the Boomers did.

  22. @ Dave
    i) Please read the definition – this is *before* housing and other “living costs”
    ii) My 23-year-old has just moved into a much bigger and better flat than I could afford when I was 25.

  23. But if it were true, that a certain were going to be poorer than their parents, does it matter? Is there something wrong with being poorer? Is there an implication that to be poorer is to be unhappier? I was much poorer in 1970, than I am now, but I was no more unhappy.

  24. So Much For Subtlety

    Frances Coppola – “Oi, you lot, less of the “what can you expect from a music graduate?” stuff. I’m a music graduate too!”

    Yeah you’re not still a teenage Trot, are you? And perhaps never were. The BBC wouldn’t employ an unrepentant member of the BNP. They should not employ this man either.

  25. @ 23 Frances
    What amazes me is that he could get a music degree while wasting that much time on student politics. As a mathematician I had a much easier time but, since I wanted to do (just one) sport, I gave up student politics after listening to the star speakers brought along to the Con, Lib and Lab clubs in my first term (the childishness of student politics *did* influence my choice in favour of sport, but I couldn’t have done both).
    The musicians I know had to work far harder than I did (so did the scientists and those doing Greats).

  26. @ Squander 2
    No, we didn’t pull up the ladder – Blair and Brown belong to a younger cohort; Barbara Castle who designed SERPS to suit the then current working-age voters to the exclusion of their elders at the cost of those not then able to vote is a pre-Boomer.
    My generation have benefited from economic growth since 1951 but we have never ruled the country – the baton passed from Jo9hn Major (born in 1943) to Tony Blair (born 1953), totally skipping over us

  27. John77

    I think it depends where you do your degree. Mason was at Sheffield, whereas I was doing a London University degree at the Royal College of Music. RCM types didn’t do politics much (and still don’t as far as I know) – we had to spend too much time practising. Perhaps at Sheffield they weren’t so concerned about the performance standard.

  28. @ Frances Cooppola
    You are presumably right: the Choir at my wedding all came from GMSD but I never pretended to understand them: I relied on our church organist to do that. At least three of the four soloists subsequently sang at Covent Garden and/or the Barbican
    My post-grad Diploma was worth more than an MSc from Sheffield (I know that because a Yorkshire-born colleague had chosen to do a MSc at Sheffield after a Cambridge Maths degree and for some valid reason which I have since forgotten we compared courses) , but that did not lead me to expect such a lowering of standards in otherb subjects.

  29. john77,

    You appear to be under the impression that we live in a dictatorship. We don’t. Boomers vote. Whether the person they vote for is a Boomer is immaterial.

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