Shock as Mark Carney spills the beans (and agrees with me)

By Neil Patrick

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney
Photo credit: World Economic Forum 

What is front page news today in the UK? Well it’s that the Governor of the Bank of England agrees with me about the jobs crisis.

Mr. Mark Carney’s speech last night in Liverpool was the first time I have ever seen one of the world’s most senior central bankers endorse the very things I have been banging on about here for the last four years.

But I am not gloating. There can be no joy in the confirmation that one’s worst fears are indeed reality. What’s tragic is that this demonstrates just how long institutions take to acknowledge that a problem exists. Let alone do anything about it.

And the Bank of England is falling back on its get out of jail free card to pass responsibility for solving the problem to the government. After all, monetary policy is a blunt instrument, as central bankers are always swift to remind us.

Anyway for fun (if such a thing is possible) on hearing this not so new ‘news’, I have taken a look at his main points and compared them to things I have said here, and when I said them.

The Daily Mail’s front page headline today read:

On 15 Sept 2015, I wrote:

“The endless rise of tech is one of what I call the “six pillars of job destruction”. The others are globalization, demographics, monetary and fiscal policy, educational lag and digital communications… “

The front page story by Hugo Duncan in the Mail went on:

‘In an alarming vision for workers, Mark Carney warned many jobs would be 'hollowed out' as huge technological advances meant roles could be automated instead.

‘The Bank has said the march of the machines in the workplace puts administrative, clerical and production staff most under threat.

On December 1 2014, I wrote:

“Whilst the whole of a job may be currently impossible for a machine to replicate, parts of that job may well be perfectly capable of being replaced or aided by technology. This fact in turn means that fewer people are needed to deliver the same amount of work.”

‘The Bank of England predicts that entire professions, such as accountancy, could be pushed to the brink of extinction as developments in computers make their roles redundant.

On 27 July 2016, I wrote in reference to the endless rise of tech:

“In the US and Europe in particular, this is why the middle class is becoming an endangered species”.

‘Mr Carney claimed that 'up to 15million of the current jobs in Britain' – almost half of the 31.8million workforce – could be replaced by robots over the coming years as livelihoods were 'mercilessly destroyed' by the technological revolution.

And in July this year I said:

“The last remaining argument for tolerance of the jobs carnage created by the tech tsunami is that the Wikipedia version of history tells us technological progress is inevitable, and has only ever resulted in greater wealth and a better society. But this assertion doesn’t bear much scrutiny if you have even a basic knowledge of economic history.”

Mark Carney again: 'The fundamental challenge is, alongside its great benefits, every technological revolution mercilessly destroys jobs and livelihoods – and therefore identities – well before the new ones emerge.

I said in 2014: 

“The jobs created by tech are totally different to the ones destroyed by it. Which means those who lose their jobs as a result of technology are largely unable to switch.”

Carney: 'This was true of the eclipse of agriculture and cottage industry by the industrial revolution, the displacement of manufacturing by the service economy, and now the hollowing out of many of those middle-class services jobs.'

In October this year I wrote:

  “We have to understand how technology is going to impact our area of professionalism and get ahead of the change curve”

‘Speaking at Liverpool John Moores University yesterday, the Governor also claimed workers had suffered '…the first lost decade since the 1860s', with living standards suffering the biggest squeeze since Dickensian times. Calling for the Government to tackle 'staggering wealth inequalities' through redistribution, he said: 'Real wages are below where they were a decade ago – something that no one alive today has experienced before.'’

‘Globally, the share of wealth held by the richest 1 per cent rose from a third in 2000 to half by 2010. In the UK, the income share of the top 1 per cent tripled from 5 per cent in the early 1980s to 15 per cent in 2009.

In September 2014 I reported how: 

“quantitative easing policies have benefited mainly the wealthy. About 40% of those gains went to the richest 5% of British households...exacerbating already extreme income inequality and the consequent social tensions that arise from it”.

‘Mark Carney went on to say: ”…globalisation has seen 'the superstars and the lucky' thrive while others have struggled. ..Now may be the time of the famous or fortunate, but what of the frustrated and frightened?”

On 8 April 2015 I wrote: 

“…the globalization of workforces means that many jobs which used to stay firmly in the domestic market are now spreading around the world. And it’s not just a cheap labor argument. I recently had lunch with an entrepreneur friend who told me that almost his entire workforce was now composed of freelancers based the Philippines. Yes it was cheaper than a UK workforce (by about 75%), but critically this wasn’t his main reason for the choice. He was in the business of web content production and he had found that his overseas workers were more diligent, more proactive and had better written English than the people he used to employ in the UK.”

And in January this year I wrote that:

“There will be many more super rich in the world, but also a great many more who used to be comfortable, becoming very uncomfortable.”

Carney again: “One of the things that I think contributes very understandably to the level of anxiety that households feel in this economy, in other economies, is the fact that it has for them been almost a lost decade of growth.”

On 15 November 2015 I said:

 “…persistent slow growth will continue to dampen employment prospects…real wages have stagnated across many advanced G-20 nations and even fallen in some.”

Carney: 'Real incomes in this country have not grown for the last ten years. That is incredible and that shines a light on inequalities that exist in this economy and make people question what is being done to address those and what are the fundamental causes of those.'

He added: 'For free trade to benefit all requires some redistribution. We need to move towards more inclusive growth where everyone has a stake in globalisation.'

For the first and I hope not the last time, I applaud Mark Carney for not mincing his words and spelling things out to the government. Even if he is a bit late in diagnosing the problems.

We need change and we need it fast.

The destruction and degradation of jobs is something I’ve been documenting here since 2012. Now four years later, we have an acknowledgement of the problem from someone who has the influence to do something about it. But we cannot wait another four years for practical solutions to begin to be implemented.

The machines aren’t going to wait and neither can we.

No comments:

Post a Comment