In the court of the Brexit king….

The nationwide rallies of Nigel Farage’s new Brexit Party are well underway. In forming the party as a top down organisation Farage has succeeded in his long quoted desire to lead a party free from the internal democracy. At the rallies Farage appointee  Richard Tice acts as the warm up act for the main event. Tice is articulate and borderline smooth. If he hadn’t made his name in business we could have seen him in a Conservative cabinet or even Hollywood. Clearly a key player in this new political formation.

The entry of ‘The Nigel’ into the arena is the main event, marching to the stage in his trademark suit and tie accompanied by loud rock music he milks the applause. His delivery is vintage Farage in an almost pantomime style he denounces his opponents inviting boos from the audience, but for all the razzmatazz and the claims to be anti establishment the Brexit Party is quite clearly on the Conservative right . Claims that their candidates include people with proven negotiating skills can’t disguise the fact that they all come from the business community, trade unionists from the other side of the table are notable by their absence.

Former high Tories like Annuziata Rees Mogg may have caused a rift in the family but this group are definitely more Wall Street than Main Street.

A significant proportion of the Leave supporting electorate seem oblivious to the fact that the vast majority of prominent Brexiteers are very much part of the same establishment that they cheerfully denounce. This is unlikely to change between now and the European elections but over the longer term things can be different. If as they boast the Brexit Party are here to stay then as Liberals we will need to come up with a full range of policies to counter this new force on the right.

I believe we must develop a radical set of policies that addresses the issues that caused the anger that resulted in millions voting to leave the European Union in the first place, particularly in deprived working class communities. If we can do that the sky is the limit. Both Tories and Labour are riven with divisions a situation which presents real opportunities for all progressive parties.

Sadly I believe that the Conservatives will come through their current crisis not least because as the great Jo Grimond once said there will always be a significant conservative party as there is only one way of standing still. If we look across Western Europe that same principle applies, on the centre left however it is a different matter with parties of the Socialist international having experienced electoral losses in many countries over recent years. Here in the UK the heady days of Corbyn mania are fading as the flawed heroes limitations are consistently highlighted.

Back in 2015 I wrote an article for LDV arguing that the 21st century could be a Liberal one and I still believe that. In the court of the Brexit King a negative message built on perceived betrayal is the order of the day ours has to be one of real hope. If we can get it right then we can build a strong progressive opposition to the right wing establishment that has had things its own way for far to long.

* David is a member of Horsham and Crawley Liberal Democrats

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  • Richard Underhill 1st May '19 - 9:27am

    “there is only one way of standing still”.
    Despite what they say now the Conservatives vigorously opposed the introduction of the NHS and needed to catch up.
    Underfunding during Margaret Thatcher’s period as PM caused long queues for many types of operations. Medics trained by the NHS set up private hospitals.
    My mother was able to pay for a hip operation, but died.
    Trying to find out what had happened was difficult.
    I was told by the surgeon that I had no right to know because I was not his patient.
    He did, of course, want to be paid.

  • Richard Underhill 1st May '19 - 9:53am

    After resigning as Brexit leader Nigel Farage flew to the USA and spoke for Donald Trump (not to be confused with Judd Trump).
    If the Donald comes to the UK soon is he likely to return the favour?
    If so, would that be interfering in the elections of another country?
    The UK has a world class golfer. Will he be invited to play with the Donald?
    Would the match be tightly supervised to prevent actions depicted in Goldfinger?

  • nigel hunter 1st May '19 - 10:19am

    Farage and America.He has recently been in the US discussing problems in Oldham (whites on one side of the street ‘others’ on the other side). Why go to the US to campaign on this. Politicians need money for support. Donations will be offered, taken? If so finances from foreign nations is not allowed. His reticence in discussing where he obtains his funds could be due to this.

  • Peter Martin 1st May '19 - 10:38am

    “I believe we must develop a radical set of policies that addresses the issues that caused the anger that resulted in millions voting to leave the European Union in the first place, particularly in deprived working class communities. If we can do that the sky is the limit.”

    The problems, if we are to remain a part of the EU, have to be addressed on a EU wide scale too. A “radical set of policies” would mean rewriting the EU Treaties and including the highly neoliberal and economically contractionary Stability and Growth Pact.

    And the chances of that happening any time soon are……. ?

  • chris moore 1st May '19 - 10:46am

    I don’t see the Stability and Growth Pact as intrinsically “neo-liberal”, unless you’re taking neo-liberal to mean everything that you believe is economically wrong.

    It reflects German concerns over possible budget indiscipline in southern European countries and an attempt to ban “large” deficits by fiat.

    Totally wrong-headed in my view, but not neo-liberal.

  • chris moore 1st May '19 - 10:48am

    I stongly agree with the main argument in your article, David.

  • David Warren 1st May '19 - 10:58am

    Thanks Chris.

    I have been arguing for sometime that we need a Liberal alternative to both the populist right and the hard leftism of Corbyns Labour.

    That requires radical policies on the economy, housing, welfare, health and social care.

    It would also help if the new leader when they are elected had a bit of charisma.

  • Peter Martin 1st May '19 - 11:32am

    @Chris Moore,

    It will probably annoy some people if we go into what neoliberalism is yet again. But if you don’t like the word, try ‘ordoliberalism’ for size. You might want to Google it. That’s its German cousin.

    David Warren argues in true old fashioned Liberal style for some magical mid way between what he calls the populist right and the hard left. We’ve heard it all before. If it really existed it would have already been discovered.

    The truth of the matter is that you can have a successful economy which is more of the left with greater Govt involvement or more to the right with lesser Govt involvement. It isn’t at all about finding some sweet spot in the middle where everything naturally works really well! What we should have is matter of political choice. Then it’s a matter of making it work properly. To do that you need to understand the functioning of the economy and not get bogged down in silly neoliberal policies, like thinking the Govt is like a household and that books have to be balanced, and that have been shown not to work.

    If we are part of a wider trading bloc with no tariffs and free movement of people we can’t do it on our own. The problem has to be tackled at EU level but there’s no obvious way of doing that.

  • chris moore 1st May '19 - 11:41am

    @ Peter Martin

    I’m happy with ordo-liberalism, as it’s the correct term in this context. As you’ll be aware ordo-liberalism is often at loggerheads with a laisser-faire neo-liberal approach.

  • chris moore 1st May '19 - 11:54am

    Peter Martin 1st May ’19 – 11:32am To do that you need to understand the functioning of the economy and not get bogged down in silly neoliberal policies, like thinking the Govt is like a household and that books have to be balanced, and that have been shown not to work.

    @ Peter Martin. I’ve never actually met any economist who believes the govt is like a household. And such a mythical individual would certainly not be a neo-liberal, even a “silly” neo-liberal.

    I can’t help feeling you are making very heavy weather of David’s call for policies that help the poorly off. I can’t see any reference to any particular macro-economic stance in the article. Nor indeed anything about finding a “sweet spot” in the middle.

  • Peter Martin 1st May '19 - 11:55am

    @ chris moore,

    Conceivably that could be the case. Ordoliberalism can be defined as a rules based economy whereas neoliberalism has the implication, if not the reality, of fewer rules. It’s easy to get bogged down in semantics but that doesn’t get us anywhere.

    Ordoliberalism, as it is defined, could work perfectly well. But of course the rules would have to be the right rules. Germany is right to insist on some rules. That’s not the main issue. But why a limit of 3% on Government deficits? If EU countries are to have 2% growth and hit their inflation target of 2% there needs to be a 4% annual increase in spending which can only come from GOvt deficit spending the money into existence. Add in a desire of the population to save 1% of GDP and the possibility of a small trade deficit of, say, 0.5% of GDP and we are up to 5.5% already.

    It’s not a difficult issue to understand.

  • Imagine if us Leave voters consistently insisted that we had to address the issues that caused people to vote Remain as if it was some sort of inexplicable aberration. What caused the leave vote is a bias towards Britain as a nation state v the very recent (1993, only finalized in 2009 -2010) political entity known as the EU. The EU as a political project really doesn’t have much support in Britain. People were not begging for more EU. The country was never a full whole hearted member of the EU. Hence no single currency, no Schengen, rebates, constant griping and so. Even the majority of Remain voters don’t support the political aspects of the project that strongly and thus one of the main Remain campaign’s tactics was to insist we had to stay in the EU to reform it. But, why would the other 27 countries want Britain to have big say in the EU when we will not adopt great chunks of the political and economic integration inherent to the ideals of the union in the first place? . Weirdly, a lot of EU supporters on the continent are able to grasp this better than British Europhiles and actively want Britain to leave, too.

  • Peter Martin 1st May '19 - 12:13pm

    @ chris moore,

    ” I’ve never actually met any economist who believes the govt is like a household.”

    Sure, If you ask them they’ll all tell you that it isn’t. That’s true. But how many of them make the distinction that the Govt is a currency issuer whereas the rest of us are currency users? And that is the reason for difference. Therefore a large State of the USA like California with a much larger GDP that many smaller countries, IS like a household. It doesn’t issue its own currency. Normal budgetary rules, as we understand them, do apply.

    It’s not just a matter of scale as they like to imply.

    A currency issuer can issue as much as it likes to keep its economy going. NOT that it SHOULD issue, and spend, too much because real resources are always finite. If Govt’s try to achieve too much there will inevitably be an inflation problem.

  • The Lib Dems have no way forward in the battle to save the UK from the tragedy that is Brexit. No media coverage almost zero news TV airtime and looking at a meagre percentage vote in upcoming election. The view of many is that the party should have stood to the side held TIGs coat and let them get in the ring against Farage and co, people just aren’t prepared to give the Lib Dems a chance. The future looking very bleak for Remain I fear.

  • Peter Watson 1st May '19 - 12:40pm

    Silvio “a meagre percentage vote in upcoming election.”
    It is important to distinguish between the local elections and the european elections.
    Change UK and Brexit Party have no credibility in the local elections, and given Lib Dem councillor cumulative losses in 2007/11/15 (over 1400 according to Wikipedia?) the party really ought to be expecting hundreds of gains and a better national equivalent vote share than last year’s disappointing drop (though I expect management of expectations will prevent official predictions from stating that).
    The reporting of that sort of performance could give the party a positive bounce going into the European elections (and take the wind out of ChUK’s sails), so from a party political perspective, the Lib Dems should have a good month (but I’m not optimistic about the Remain campaign as a whole).
    Conversely, a poorer than expected performance at the start of May and/or no subsequent boost could be very damaging to the party and the campaign to remain in the EU.

  • Peter Martin 1st May '19 - 12:48pm

    @ Silvio,

    “The future looking very bleak for Remain I fear.”

    It’s looking quite a bit better for you guys than it did on the 24th June! Getting on for three years after a vote to leave the EU we are taking part in their elections.

    Parliament has vetoed all imaginable forms of Leave. IF we have a referendum it will be between some variant of May’s WA and Remain which will be boycotted by the Leave side. Otherwise the only other option is Revoke Art 50.

    So what’s not to like from where you are sitting? You must be a very hard person to please!

  • chris moore 1st May '19 - 12:56pm

    Silvio 1st May ’19 – 12:14pm
    The Lib Dems have no way forward in the battle to save the UK from the tragedy that is Brexit. No media coverage almost zero news TV airtime and looking at a meagre percentage vote in upcoming election. The view of many is that the party should have stood to the side held TIGs coat and let them get in the ring against Farage and co, people just aren’t prepared to give the Lib Dems a chance. The future looking very bleak for Remain I fear.

    @ Silvio. Ah Silvio, iyour customary defeatist rant, packaged as ever with a plug for No Change UK, who, in spite of wider media coverage – thereIi agree – still continue to lag the Lib Dems in opinión polls.

    The figures for Lib Dems – Change in latest eight national opinión polls: 11-3, 6-4, 9-5, 8-5, 10-3, 7-9, 11-3, 10-1.

    Why would the Lib Dems stand to the side for a party that has no momentum, no policies, no councillors , no activists. Get real, Silvio.

  • chris moore 1st May '19 - 1:03pm

    @ Peter Martin: “It’s not a difficult issue to understand.”

    No Modern Monetary Theory isn’t difficult to understand. That doesn’t mean it’s right.

    In any case, I still can’t help feeling you are making very very heavy weather of David’s call for policies to favour the poorly off. None of which require belief in MMT, thankfully.

  • Peter Martin 1st May '19 - 1:24pm

    @ chris moore,

    I understand, I think reasonably well, what David and other Lib Dems are saying and what they have been saying for many years now. It’s not that I making ‘heavy weather’ of it. I’m just asking ‘what’s new’? I’d say you need something new to make that breakthrough.

    An understanding of MMT isn’t essential. But it helps. It’s nothing particularly new IMO. It’s essentially how the WW2 economy was run under Keynes and Cripps. But this time, hopefully, there isn’t a war and we can devote our energies to more useful priorities than building tanks and fighter aircraft.

  • Peter Martin &Chris Moore
    Surely, the point at issue here is that the neoliberal structures of the EU prevent individual nation states from pursuing independent, expansionary policies to deal with unemployment and deprivation. The EU is Hayekian not Keynesian

  • Sue Sutherland 1st May '19 - 2:07pm

    Thank you so much for this article David. I totally agree with you and would go further, that we should attack Farage for the way he is manipulating people to benefit himself and his cronies financially.
    We should also be adopting the policies you suggest and show people that this is the way to heal our divided nations.
    The benefits from EU membership were not shared equally but that was because of domestic policy not the EU. We have to show that this is the great betrayal, the reason why we are battling on against Brexit. I have seen Vince quoted as saying that it is a simplistic argument that poverty and inequality caused the Brexit vote and he’s right, but a large majority of council and housing association tenants voted to leave and these are the people I care about, the people who are about to be betrayed again. I’ve heard David Lammy talking quite movingly about this in Parliament so we wouldn’t be alone in putting this message across.
    We also need to show why we are so determined to remain in the EU in value based or emotional terms. The EU countries are our friends, they want peace and prosperity for Europe and they have provided this since shortly after WWII. We are a family, looking after each other, but the privileged in this country want to tear us away from our family so they can become even more privileged while the rest of us suffer.
    Our message for the Euros should be passionate. I bet Catherine Bearder has done more for the UK than all the UKIP MEPs put together so let’s show that. Let’s come out fighting, on the attack to improve the lives of those who live in poverty or close to it.

  • Peter Martin 1st May '19 - 3:01pm

    Mike Jay,

    ” Surely, the point at issue here is that the neoliberal structures of the EU prevent individual nation states from pursuing independent, expansionary policies to deal with unemployment and deprivation.”

    Yes to an extent. However it’s more the rules of euro that anything else. In principle if everyone had a UK style opt-out, and had their own freely floating currencies, that would work a lot better for everyone.

    “The EU is Hayekian ……”

    I’m not sure about that. Hayek, as far as I know, wasn’t against floating currencies. But the EU certainly is. Milton Friedman says the same as Stiglitz, so it’s not just a left objection.–monetary-unity-to-political-disunity

  • Peter Martin
    Thanks for the response. It’s too complicated to deal with here. If you’re interested, the following give you an idea of where I’m coming from

  • Dilettante Eye 1st May '19 - 4:43pm

    “I believe we must develop a radical set of policies that addresses the issues that caused the anger that resulted in millions voting to leave the European Union in the first place, particularly in deprived working class communities.”

    Isn’t this an implicit admission that Lib Dems (and the other established parties), have willfully ignored, and disenfranchised those communities over the last 30 years?

    Why would they believe a word you say now, or that your pledge of developing a radical set of policies to help the deprived, will ever bear fruit?

    As for the analysis of the Brexit Party, I just don’t recognise David Warren’s description.
    I attended one of the Brexit Party rallies in Birmingham a couple of weeks ago. As I stood in the queue I noticed a batch of leaflets advertising an Alfie Boe concert. Looking at my fellow Brexit travellers, I thought this could just as easily be an Alfie Boe queue, No retired colonels, No tattooed racist idiots looking for a fight.

    On the application form for Brexit Party MEP candidates you were asked the question ‘Have you an account on social media, and have you ever registered with a dating website?
    So those Brexit Party MEP candidates chosen, (from 1300 applications!), are not another iteration of establishment as you suggest, but candidates who are capable, articulate and are hopefully social history bland ? Farage knows the imperative of avoiding the possibility of another ‘Godferey Bloom’?.

    Whatever you think of Farage, he and the Brexit Party will take valuable lessons from the past and its regrettable ‘vignette’ of media errors via Ukip. In case we forget, the Brexit Party is no more than 8 weeks old, so its structures are in their formative period?

    And Sue Sutherland, I can assure you there are no ‘dumb sheep’ following a manipulative Farage in the Brexit Party. If anything we don’t think he’s going fast enough to transform Westminster politics, but I suppose patience is a virtue we leavers are running short of.

  • Lord this site does attrack Brexiteers. Will no other site engage with them, will no other site tend to their need to be listened too. Surely LibDemvoice cannot be the only place they can come to, to feel someone cares, someone will listen to them. I’m afraid we are becoming a listening site for those that no one else will listen to. Are the other sites to hard on you, do posters post facts at you and point out your delusions?
    Bless LibDemVoice caring for the delusional since 2016 ( I know before someone points it out you could claim it is since 2010).

  • Frankie
    In my case it’s because I’m actually a Lib Dem voter. Why argue politics with people at all, when experience tells you that virtually no-one ever changes their mind in a political argument? Why make attention seeking comments about people seeking attention?

  • David Warren 1st May '19 - 7:56pm

    @Dilettante Eye

    I believe that the Tory policies of the 1980s had an averse effect on many working class communities, Labour took their votes for granted and the Lib Dems have not paid enough attention to their concerns.

    I am not sure which bit of my assessment of the Brexit Party you disagree with.

    It is a top down party with no membership rights. FACT

    It has no ‘Lexiteers’ amongst its candidates. FACT

  • Dilettante Eye 1st May '19 - 8:15pm


    I comment on this site and many others of both a Leave and Remain disposition.
    I don’t (or resist), speaking to family, friends, other colleagues, or friends in social circles regarding Brexit. Those relationships remain intact for that very reason.

    Commenting on sites like these allows a modicum of debate, although I think by now minds are pretty much entrenched by now. That said, it allows you to question me, and me to question you on the detail of Brexit or Remain, without any permanent damage done.

    I don’t know who you are, and you don’t know me, and that is the crucial point. You are free to call me an uneducated racist unicorn feeder, and I can internally question why tis someone who purports to be educated, cannot seem to distinguish between there, their, and they’re.

    This also helps on several levels:
    1. In the discourse and banter, I might just learn something I didn’t know, and vice versa.
    2. My presence here might rankle some, but it does help detract from an otherwise boring ECHO,.. Echo,.. echo,… chamber
    3. Given that we weren’t friends in the first place we can walk away from the keyboard, without having to divorce, amend our Last Will and Testament, or change to another pub.

  • Dilettante Eye 1st May '19 - 9:00pm

    @David Warren

    “It is a top down party with no membership rights. FACT”

    Yes it is a fact. (For now).

    The Brexit Party website asks for registered supporters with a fee of £25 (to recur annually). So yes, there are no membership rights, because there are presently no members, but about 67,000 registered (£ contributing) supporters.

    As I said, it is only 8 weeks old, and probably about 80% of the necessary structures for a fully functioning party aren’t yet in place. The EU elections have ‘bounced’ all parties into emergency measures to deal with it. So yes, top-down decisions for now, given you can’t have a membership voting structure with no members.

    If the EU elections take place, the next step is a full membership structure and a manifesto so that a General Election can be tackled.

    Update : It appears that Peterborough is to be a by election, so a top down decision for a Brexit Party MP looks to be needed urgently, and as a registered supporter, I’m happy with that for now, and will contribute to the costs of that by election.

  • Peter Martin 2nd May '19 - 9:56am

    @Glenn @ Frankie,

    There’s been some discussion on who should comment and in what way on this site. I would say there are limits. For example, I would say it wouldn’t be acceptable for members of other parties to openly advocate that LIb Dems should switch allegiance to them.

    On the other hand it is fair enough to try to persuade LIb Dems on individual issues. The way the economy really works, for example, which is not the way nearly everyone thinks it works. The big one of course is the EU. I would argue that it is quite in line with LibDem’s history to be sceptical of becoming too bound up in ‘grand vision’ schemes like the Pan European entity known as the EU. Wanting to give away powers to a huge structure like the EU doesn’t fit in at all with a desire to hand power down to the people.

  • Antony Watts 2nd May '19 - 10:05am

    Want a simple message? LibDems are for

    – Action on climate change, real action
    – Action on social justice, real action
    – Action on Brexit: abandon it

    Just hammer those forward and we are done.

  • chris moore 2nd May '19 - 10:38am

    Peter Martin 2nd May ’19 – 9:56am
    On the other hand it is fair enough to try to persuade LIb Dems on individual issues. The way the economy really works, for example, which is not the way nearly everyone thinks it works.

    I haven’t noticed anyone talking about the way the economy really works.

    I have enjoyed your disquistions on Modern Monetary Theory, however.

    We’re a liberal party and so should welcome non-party members’ contributions.

    I think you do very well to remind Lib Dems that one can be liberal-minded and anti-EU. You’ve made some very strong contributions here; and in my view are clearly liberal in outlook (though not neo-liberal!). Keep up the good work.

  • Sue Sutherland 2nd May '19 - 11:53am

    Dilettante Eye. By putting the phrase dumb sheep in quotes you are implying that I used the phrase in my post. I did not. I don’t think sheep lack intelligence and everyone is open to manipulation no matter how bright.

  • Peter Hirst 2nd May '19 - 12:50pm

    The progressive centre ground must be able when the time comes to forcibly call out the extreme right. The media and electorate are still able to recognise propaganda when they see it. It just needs to be pointed out repeatedly.

  • Jayne Mansfield 2nd May '19 - 10:25pm

    ‘Farage knows the imperative of avoiding another Godferey ( sic) Bloom”?

    Really, and does he also know the imperative of avoiding the rest of the sort of people he had in his party that, shall we say, have some pretty unfortunate views?

    Remind me, who was leader of UKIP when the anti immigrant poster which had echos of 1930’s propaganda was approved , A poster that was re-hashed by the Hungarian Government? A government including the Prime Minister Victor Orban, who would not look out of place at an Alfie Boe concert, (although one might speculate as to whether they would feel the same tug at the heartstrings as some, to Boe’s rendition of ‘ Love changes everything’ ).

  • Excellent new logo for the Lib Dems. Miss out the teardrop though.

  • Richard Underhill 3rd May '19 - 1:35pm

    Layla Moran MP has said that there was a joint candidature with the Greens in one ward, including joint leaflets, and the local electorate welcomed joint working.
    The BBC journalist, a Welsh newsreader, asked whether that would apply to a general election. Layla Moran answered yes, with some surprise, because this was announced some time ago, but the two parties have different policies and a full merger will not happen.
    Personally I am impressed by Green MP Caroline Lucas, ploughing a lonely furrow in the Commons, calling for electoral reform, former MEP, pro-Remain and speaking with great clarity.
    During the broadcasts of the local election results I have not noticed either of the
    co-leaders of the Green Party giving her any credit for the Green performance.
    Demonstrations on Climate Change must have raised the salience of the issue.
    Between local election results we are getting weather forecasts for India, ravaged by a cyclone.
    India is also having the largest general election in the world in which climate change deserves to be a major issue.

  • nvelope2003 3rd May '19 - 2:22pm

    Silvio: Oh dear – you spoke too soon ! 399 extra council seats and many results still to come. If TIG/Change-UK had wanted to they could have stood some candidates but I guess they did not think any of them would win. They may just spoil things for Remain on 23rd May as the PR system used does not help small groups if there are too many in the same pool – that is more than one.

  • David Warren 4th May '19 - 10:09am

    Thanks for all the comments guys.

    Hoped the article would generate a healthy debate and I was right.

    The Local elections demonstrate that a sizeable proportion of the electorate are hearing our Liberal message and liking it!

  • Seriously David, you should put forward that new logo combining the Lib Dem bird with the EU stars. And a change of colour, to symbolise an invigorated party.
    Plus a new slogan, DELIVER US FROM BREXIT.

  • John Littler 4th May '19 - 3:02pm

    The Daily Torygraph was fed with the information that Mogg’s sister had stood for the Euro elections with her brother’s approval.

    The Brexits are merely round two of what was started with UKIP when they received a long list of senior Tory donations, from old money and new.
    UKIP were to be the hammer that took the Tories to the right, but when they became irrelevant and courted the very hard neofascist right, the establishment figures wanted a new vehicle.

    The vehicle of the hard Tory right is the Brexit Party and to call them anti-establishment would be a total misreading of them. The Brexits do not have members, just subscribers to give them money. Nor do they have a proper constitution.

    We need to stop these people who are a transparent front for Disaster Capitalism’s greed and selfishness, as they wish to take tax evasion to another level, short sell the collapsing pound to make millions and stage asset strips and fire sales from failing companies in a collapsing economy.

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