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The Chancellor is a cheery fellow, skilled at creating glossy photo opportunities emphasising his can-do spirit and optimism.

The endless leaks in recent days about government largesse, and the Chancellor throwing around ever more of other people’s money, are designed to project a feeling of economic confidence to keep spirits up. This is accompanied by an attempt to set new rules, showing the markets that the government is sober (hic) and working within a robust structure.

The aim is to create the impression that all is well, apart from some temporary inflation and supply chain pandemic after effects. Keep smiling!

The reality, say friends and colleagues of the Chancellor, is the situation internationally and domestically is so perilous that he is deeply, deeply concerned about the potential for a blow-up.

Sunak’s background is Goldman Sachs and then hedge funds, where he made himself very wealthy. In that arena – the hedge fund world – the smart people are windy right now, fearing some form of detonation or trigger with central bank balance sheets having grown so much thanks to the Quantitative Easing policy that has kept the show on the road. The central banks buy financial assets to keep the system flowing. It’s inflationary. This was a policy designed for when the concern was deflation, falling prices. They now want to wind down QE, as they start to battle inflation. But it’s a perilous business, vulnerable to external shocks. Once inflation really gets going it has disruptive effects on consumers and investors.

Is what’s coming next going to produce a sudden reverse and some kind of downturn next year? During the pandemic many of the initial assumptions of economists and policymakers about the impact and recovery time turned out to be wrong. Now, who knows? It’s never been less clear. Hence an abnormal level of nervousness. That’s the real context for the Budget.

“Rishi’s world of contacts is a hedge fund and investment bank world,” says a colleague. “He knows how worried people are. He’s right to be worried.”