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Business Comment

Mark Leftly: After 4G blow, is the luck running out for George?


Outlook Every time the Chancellor thinks he's found a pot of gold, he finds that the last lot have already looted it. In gold's case, of course, that's quite literally the case, Gordon Brown having sold off the bulk of the nation's precious metal near the bottom of the market over a decade ago.

While Labour reaped £22.5bn from the auction of 3G airwaves in 2000, the Coalition received just £2.34bn from the likes of Vodafone and O2 for the super-fast 4G mobile spectrum. This was well under what had appeared rather cautious estimates that the sale would reap at least £3.5bn, meaning that there is a near-£1.2bn hole in George Osborne's Autumn Statement.

There is talk that Mr Osborne has hired Mark Carney as Sir Mervyn King's successor at the Bank of England because he is "lucky". Mr Carney helped revive Canada's economy, but had the economic advantages of a country filled with mineral wealth.

Napoleon wanted lucky generals. Mr Osborne wants his governor to have the same attribute. What should worry Mr Osborne now is the time to replace him with a far more fortunate Chancellor.