Perceived assets also - degrees. Securitisation of toilet paper degrees, toilet seats of learning.
1989 saw a 40% reduction in the syllabus of A levels. 1990 saw coursework, once absent, grow significantly to create "work mules". 1993 saw uni staff resigning over refusing to reduce course content yet again, even students were bored & unchallenged, then rebellious as they saw "poly" standard intake. 1994 saw disclaimers added to prospectus's re vested interest sell- side. 1994 saw grade inflation explode, universities who had never awarded a 1st on a course in 10yrs awarded all 1sts - when postgrads furiously demanded why "because they will not get jobs otherwise".
That was a supposedly times top-10 university.
1994 saw vast numbers of corporations completely write off a degree as entry or selection qualification. Universities had existed on the presumption that entrants were mostly the top 5% by virtue of A-level selection. Universities therefore had to add very little, and for the most part did just that. With that selection process gone, universities were suddenly naked emperors - dated courses and now to devalue further, dumbed down. Manipulation of degree marking rife, external examiners recalled to repromulgate results in such a mess, if one person had a job and the other did not, the one without a job got a 1st despite lower marks, the one with a job got a 2.1 despite higher marks. Academic staff became "recruitment consultants" managing a "portfolio", companies merely let people rot for a bit to get people discounted (Logica notoriously) - companies recruited to deny another company an individual.
Many corporations got burnt picking at times the most bizarre crap as they wrestled with "foolproof" prometrics. Most corporations went to ground, as did the salaries, with once graduate pay simply moved up the spreadsheet hierarchy. Some companies sprouted 8 managing directors, flat structure, over skilled manual labour & graduate labour at the bottom, a recipe for their eventual migration to hungary, sweden, spain, and so on (directors relocate, staff replaced by locals discounted).
1994 IBM - stated most universities were holiday camps, the expansion of the university system from 1986 was merely to hide structural unemployment. 1995 Arthur Andersen boasted how most were "engineered out of society" I guess as a prelude "New Socialism" and that the requirement for the top 5% would decline to under 4% as globalisation & outsourcing dominate. Business process re-engineering was merely the mapping of jobs most easily transferred - to companies already prepared in waiting. CEOs of many top UK companies (eg, BT) also stakeholders of recipient outsourcing companies. Bonus on the cost cutting in the West, bonus on the growth in the East - reinforcement, double-entry.
1995 saw Greenspan initiate the biggest credit bubble of all time, a bubble of course can only be defined by its bursting - the problem is therefore that it burst. 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2005 saw it float higher.
1997 Blair begins the university expansion - I recall he actually pinned his whole economic policy on it. What many american consultancies openly call "what thatcher did to the miners, major & blair did to the graduates". Sadly that accelerated the brain drain - the top graduates got on planes just like the more skilled miners, the bottom went into teaching, and the middle for the most part into "cash-dog" of the cloverleaf society. Many companies suddenly found themselves without applicants, critically those those each generation gifts. Notices appeared around campuses inviting applications, but what they did not know is that the brightest were increasingly a) applying abroad b) not going into "graduate" occupations at all on grounds of pay.
New Labours legacy is the creation of mules to hang debt around. Companies expect parents to subsidise offsprings jobs from their jobs, or from house inflation, credit expansion. Debt replaced earnings and indeed people confused bank money with assets & cash. It is Japanese 100yr mortgages by the back door - 50yr education mortgages.
I recall one recruiter complaining that the problem with so many graduates (2005) was that the actual average earnings for hours worked, less travelling, was closing on minimum wage. The net result was that churn was increasingly simply because people were changing job for £0.10 an hour difference simply because they had identified the job was going nowhere but that a change even for a marginal benefit had at least unknown opportunity. That is the problem of marginal pricing, until they get on a plane (and a vast number have done).
Tonight I'm sure Brown announced the need for another 200,000 graduates a year. I guess he means a need to move 600,000 over the next 3yrs off the unemployment statistics.
We have moved from rows of people in manufacturing to rows of people in service, but that has created a cost chain stuffed to the limits to hide mass unemployment sustained by easy-spend easy-credit. The east has a cost chain which is the exact opposite - yet we added huge overheads as only socialism can with the result that education is devalued to contemptable levels. Quite sad when most graduates actually find on the socioeconomic matrix that a degree is actually classified as "Unskilled" with every "Skilled" earning far above them, the point Arthur Andersen was making through the usual A-B-C grouping.
In the West a panel press for a car maker will cost an order of magnitude beyond 100k, in the East that will set up a car manufacturer. That is the cost structure, we went the wrong way. Cycle time of the Wests sausage machine is much too long.
Instead of driving education attainent per age downwards, we now take 4yrs to educate more people to what was once A level - and charge them for it.
Green War has replaced Cold War as the "solution" in terms of spending, with of course the "requirement" to maintain high energy prices to subsidise a "manufactured economy" in all but name. Centrally planned economies do not have a good history, New Labour could make that apocolyptic.
So the credit bubble is not detached from the education bubble. Initially a means by Major to hide unemployment and reduce labour costs through oversupply, into a monster which is increasingly a tool to hide unemployment of a vast army of academics. Greenspan meanwhile recategorised burgar flipping from service to manufacturing, something the Office of National Statistics should do not itself considering its past performance.
Perhaps the great plan is people will live longer, thus work longer. Unfortunately that has resulted in offspring delayed until 35+ and earnings often vanishing. Every day from age 18 the liability of a pension compounds, you can save £2k/yr at 18 or you can save a shed load more at age 35 until 65, the choice is yours. With the return on most pension funds mirroring that of equities from 1983-2008 (bugger all), the result is ugly.
Inflation of course will merely compound the future liability, and reduce the ability of the cost-chain of the West to compete with that of the East.
It is an odd way of competing against the East. The East has the law of numbers. The East can afford to educate based on social status and employ only to the limit of social class. Numbers bail it out of any distortion the upper middle class can devise. The West however has a stuffed cost-chain, compounding cost and can conversely NOT afford to educate only as far as social status & employ only to the limit of social class. Trying to push more through in the 1990s simply resulted in the upper middle class stamping them back down - you may have a degree on your CV, but as many found try using it or stopping a recruiter deleting it. The famous "we do not want to see them".
The credit bubble will not pass in a year as many believe. The more you prop up a bubble, the greater the base over which it extends.
It is pretty clear who Brown is going to hang the debt around - in the guise of "education".
Many believe it will not be a Japan - because Japan hid a lot of bad debt & propped bad companies. Unfortunately we have to rely on Meddlesome to choose which companies to prop up. Unfortunately the West is enamoured by off balance debt accounting and there are many such tricks.
So whilst on the surface "this is not Japan", the iceberg is of unknown size captain. Other dominoes are wobbling and of unknown foundations.
The market will always take advantage of manipulation. Just as it did of Greenspan, the "Fed Put" which the market was happy to rely on.
The worry is when Brown sees himself as a prisoner not to his talent, but to where it finished. That is when he will set about protecting his ass today at the expense of the economic system tomorrow. I suspect that has already occurred, and the result will be devestating to that "engineered out of society" group in particular. They will stop hiding in a bottle when they realise their numbers are eventually sufficient to banish New Labour from the face of the earth for... quite some time.
It will be interesting to see who is willing to take the biggest gulp of medicine. Will it be the "Post Turtle" Obama Bin Debten? Chosen to prevent riots by colour whilst sufficient medicine is suffered, or chosen to prevent riots by preventing sufficient medicine being taken? Will it be Brown who wishes to be seen as the "saved the world today" before he can be proven to be he that "burned the world tomorrow"?
Will the US$ default, or will Sterling default? US$ is backed by oil whereas the Euro is not. However the Anglo-West has many disadvantages than Euroland - one of the is education cost & quality. Private schools are merely a different conveyor, the majority of which "do not teach" and that bodes for more socioeconomic infighting as the "top 5%" requirement declines (top 5% of Asia & China wins by numbers).
In all wars certain businesses to very well out of death. In economic wars the same is true, and the low interest rates for the rich will create trillionaires. The problem is without debt, what will the rest replace earnings by, dear Brown?...