David Prosser: A distraction we could all do without

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The Independent Online

Outlook David Blanchflower's spat with Mervyn King is becoming a little tiresome. Having traded insults via the pages of the New Statesman and a hearing at the Treasury Select Committee, Messrs Blanchflower and King respectively can now give it a rest. There was certainly no need for Mr Blanchflower to give another interview to the same magazine yesterday, complaining again that fellow members of the Monetary Policy Committee were "too scared to speak up" against an "overbearing tyranny" – presumably Mr King.

Frankly, a little protesting too much on both sides of the argument. For example, it seems difficult to believe, as Mr Blanchflower seems to be contending, that the independent members of the MPC – all eminent economists and academics in their own right – were bullied into voting against interest rate cuts last year against their will. Nor, for that matter, does Mr King's assertion that had the vote gone in his foe's favour, there would have been little positive effect in any case, stack up. Earlier monetary loosening might have saved the UK some pain.

What is clear, however, is that for whatever reason, the MPC dropped the ball during the first half of 2008, failing to foresee how serious the threat of recession was becoming. With commodity prices sending inflation spiralling, that's possibly understandable – and plenty of economists the world over were slow to see the recession coming – but the MPC's responsibility was collective.

If Mr Blanchflower really felt so aggrieved by the MPC's decisions, and his treatment, he could always have resigned. And as an economist best known for his work on happiness, he ought to know that it's best to let go of this sort of bitterness.

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