back to article Bring back big gov, right? If only the economics, STUPID, could tell us more

The economy's not growing as fast as it used to when we had big government and big unions, so we'd better bring them back, right? Or maybe we just don't have enough economic data to tell? You don't have to go all that far leftward these days to find someone brandishing economic growth statistics at you. Proving that growth was …

  1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    One thing that mucks up your comparison a bit is that politically 45-73, at least in the UK, covers both Labour & Conservative governments. And Big Unions didn't really become powerful until Wilson's time.

    Another factor is that any change in policy is going to have a lag before it becomes effective. How long is that? Does it vary from one change to another? And does it vary between different parts of the economy?

  2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
    Alien

    Any fule knows

    ...that all the easy reverse engineering from the 1947 Roswell crash has been done and the slow down in "innovation" is because the remaining stuff is really hard to reverse engineer.

    See? Almost anything can "fit the facts" :-)

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Any fule knows its the music

      Started getting good in the 50s, peaked in the 60s, then began the slide in the 70s and 80s, crap by the 90s.

      Then Pop idol is the obvious cause of the 2008 Recession/Slump/banking fsck-up/mildly disruptive natural business cycle (delete as appropriate)

      It is only by the hunting down and complete destruction of anybody involved in pop-idol-x-factor-challenge-in-the-attic that we can hope for economic recovery.

      That and explaining correlation != causing to a bunch of economists and politicians

      1. Cipher

        Re: Any fule knows its the music

        Add to that the rift in the Space-Time Contiuum caused by the introduction of Interleague Play in Americen Baseball in 1997...

      2. 's water music Silver badge

        Re: Any fule knows its the music

        It is only by the hunting down and complete destruction of anybody involved in pop-idol-x-factor-challenge-in-the-attic that we can hope for economic recovery.

        That and explaining correlation != causing to a bunch of economists and politicians

        Couldn't we allow the first to complete before undertaking the second though?

  3. Bernard

    Your explanation sounds highly plausible. To extend it, I don't know if technological change actually accelerated but it's certainly true that during war time and the military push beforehand the technological push is focused away from the economy (as are scientists and factories, while the general public at large aren't necessarily in the mood to spend their disposable income in new and exciting ways).

    Taking all of the manhattan project scientists as a small but tremendously innovative group who contributed nothing to economic growth when they were solely focused on solving a highly classified problem but who came away from the war with reputations and expertise that had wide and immediate applicability and I'd expect an immediate effect on the economy.

    Same for returning soldiers, factories retooled for civilian use and the enormous and rapid capitalization or recapitalization of countries on the friendly side of the allied cause and you'd have to see a sustained effect on growth.

    1. Tim Worstal

      "Same for returning soldiers, factories retooled for civilian use and the enormous and rapid capitalization or recapitalization of countries on the friendly side of the allied cause and you'd have to see a sustained effect on growth."

      Quite true. Although the Keynesian economists of the time were predicting a massive slump as a result of demobilisation. Didn't happen, as we know.....

      1. 's water music Silver badge

        So basically, if we can pick a world war with DPRK soon then good times for a our children?

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Yes the secret plan known as "German Economic Miracle Version2"...

          Declare war on DPRK, Bomb your own factories, Rebuild them - and then produce decent cars

  4. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    old ways of doing things

    One of the biggest factors missed out in the report is that nowadays the UK is a player in a world market.

    The trouble is that in a privilege based society like the UK (continentals kindly refer to it as 'olde worlde' or 'old fashioned way of doing things') operational efficiencies don't really count for much hence decline of UK from a world leader in 1945-ish to its almost total dependence on false investments and offshore funds shenanigans.

    It also appears to be infective and I guess that within the next 40 years India's economy will overtake that of the US.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: old ways of doing things

      "One of the biggest factors missed out in the report is that nowadays the UK is a player in a world market."

      The UK has been a player in a world market for a very long time. The difference between then & now is that we used to run that market.

  5. Adrian 4 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Investment, investment, investment

    If economic growth was achieved by state investment into the ideas of earlier inventors, it doesn't necessarily mean that the earlier work was done under conditions that encouraged innovation. It means that invention without investment to put the ideas into action is fruitless.

    State control may once have been a good way to get investment into long-term plans, making use of the science to grow technology. I'm not sure that's any longer the case, as politicians have become short-term thinkers just like the financial markets.

    The answer is to understand the actual reasons for technological and / or economic growth, rather than using cargo-cult science to attempt to generate growth by re-creating previous conditions.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Investment, investment, investment

      State control of R&D used to be, "What a spiffing club this is. I say, you look like an upstanding chap. You're not gay? Good. Here, have some dosh and go produce us some Science."

      Modern notions of accountability are rather more like rats fighting in a sack.

      Now, Jeeves, my coat, if you'd please.

  6. Richard Jones 1
    Childcatcher

    Too Many Easy Answers

    I suspect that the problems of flattening growth are more complex than too many 'planners' like to think. After the privations of the 1920s, '30s and 40s there was both a desire to improve and a pool of people willing to try to make it happen. However even as that hope was being driven the seeds of destruction were being watered and nurtured. Most industry was old, tired and frankly well behind the times. During the 1960s it was nothing to see factories still lovingly working with machines that were built before the turn of the century, items that proudly bore their build dates of 189X or perhaps there was a modern one showing 190X. Anything new was greeted with suspicion. Again we were a world master at things that the world was already losing interest in doing. We developed some of the most sophisticate steam railway engines, not always the most reliable but the most complex all the same. By the time people started to read the writing on the wall for much if industry the wafer thin margins generated were not enough to allow for investment. For a while I worked with a chap whose PhD studied factors affecting large companies in commoditizing markets. As the scale of production increased, margins shrank rapidly, but the cash rolled in. However, the slightest decrease in the market would kill anyone who was not the leanest, most efficient and highest volume producer. Anyone on the second or third rung would fail rapidly.

    Sure we decided that the best idea was to largely abandon making things, after all we no longer had the pool of hard workers prepared to put up with almost anything in order to get something made. (Neither should we have tolerated their appalling conditions but we should have captured their work ethic.] So we went in favour of manipulating things since that was an easy low cost of entry service business, clean hands and nice warm offices, Play your cards right you could gamble with other people's money and make a fortune and one or two recent governments thought it was wonderful. Barrings and the UK economy might like to discus how well it really worked.

    So we did cling to some outmoded ways of working and a right roll call of dishonour can be read out over that! Rather than capture the ethos of those who had laboured in all weathers to rivet ships for a world that wanted cleaner, faster welded ships we cast aside the development of skills, wasting what little money we had on trying to stem the tide, not spending it on real investment and retraining.

    At last with most of the old smoke stack industry gone along with the sense of grievance at its passing and some sense of entrepreneurial spirit rising from the ash lands the economy is starting to threaten a recovery. The heady times of rapid growth are past, but we need to avoid the doom sellers and other near-do-wells killing off the hope of a real economic future. It does not belong to one location or country it belongs to those with drive and interest to make it happen.

  7. J.G.Harston Silver badge

    "During the 1960s it was nothing to see factories still lovingly working with machines that were built before the turn of the century, items that proudly bore their build dates of 189X or perhaps there was a modern one showing 190X. Anything new was greeted with suspicion."

    It wasn't that anything new was treated with suspicion, but more that the capital cost of replacing still-working equipment with newer (but more efficient) equipment was too much for most industries to afford. The Far East were able to overtake us due to not having the dilemma of throwing away millions of pounds of pre-existing capital investment.

    1. Richard Jones 1
      Happy

      @J. G. Harston

      I think if you had read a line or two further you would have seen I said,

      "By the time people started to read the writing on the wall for much of industry the wafer thin margins generated were not enough to allow for investment."

      However, I was talking about machines that were actually installed being subject to suspicion and often times such things as manning rules that insisted on higher levels of staffing that did not make them competitive. For example the railways and print industries both suffered from arguments over this issue. It is still happening in London now with disputes about trains and station manning.

      If machines which had been installed 60 years earlier had not been amortised by then the business had been running on lean margins for far too long already.

      I agree that almost everyone in the Far East did not carry the baggage of sentimental attachment to ancient equipment since many were starting with a clean piece of land with no accumulated history.

      Note I have corrected 'if' to 'of industry' in the above quote

    2. Mark 153

      That's rather the flaw though, isn't it.

      It's the darwinism of companies. At the board level, year after year it's not in the board's interest to spend on big capital projects to replace "working" core plant.

      Until they're so out of date that you can't compete with younger companies with more ambition and less desire to "protect shareholder value" by spending as little money as possible.

      Then, the shareholders lose their shareholder value when the companies go bust. The eventual product kept Fred Dibner in work for years.

      There's an analogue with today. All those thousands of lines of COBOL, hacked again and again rather than spend the money on migrating to a more flexible hardware platform and a programming language people under 50 know how to use.

      Eventually, I'll either fail massively, with all inherent "reputational risk" or the world will change so far away from how it worked in 1979, until smaller, more dynamic companies will no them.

      Unless you're a bank, in which case 1960s nationisation kicks in.

      1. Mykilr

        @Mark 153

        The difference with using all those old lines of COBOL is of course that code doesn't wear out in the same way old machinery does. In fact, those old lines of COBOL running on modern hardware are so fast that it makes little sense to rewrite them. Easier and cheaper to just throw an integration layer on top. If it isn't broken, etc.

  8. John Savard Silver badge

    Common Sense

    If you haven't got accurate statistics, then you have to make do by applying common sense.

    History has shown us that there's a war-boom-bust cycle. After World War I, there were the Roaring Twenties, followed by the Depression. Other wars were followed by similar phenomena. And after World War II, there were the boom years of the fifties and sixties, followed by the slump that started in the seventies.

    Governments can print money, but they can't print gold, special drawing rights, or the currencies of other nations. So, if nations don't export enough to pay for cheap goods from China and oil from the Middle East, they either go into debt, or constrict their domestic economies so that people can't afford to buy as much from those places.

    Because trade agreements prevent them from keeping their domestic economies stimulated and just raising tariffs.

  9. DaveDaveDave

    Lying, on a jet plane

    The jet-plane's-haven't-improved idea is even more ridiculous that Tim makes clear. To quote a commenter I saw recently on another site:

    "There have been and continue to be large and impressive improvements in their: reliability, fuel efficiency, NOx emissions, CO2 emissions, noise levels, soot & smoke emissions, weight reduction and thrust rating (especially in proportion to weight). The latest Jet powered Aircraft are getting 2.4 to 2.5 Liters/passenger/100km fuel efficiency! The previous generation was around 4.5 to 6.5 and in the 70's it was around 10L/Pass/100Km! The Concorde was 16.6L/Pass/100Km!"

    Other than that, given this is a tech site, I think it's worth looking at the costs of the computer revolution. It's basic common-sense that we expect the widespread adoption of new technologies to reduce growth in the shorter term - when consumers do it, we talk about the early-adoption penalty. Arguably, we've been putting resources into building up to a level where we can really exploit IT.

    Commensurately, it has been argued that the roots of the previous boom were in the industrial revolution, and what we saw in the boom was the opportunity for rapid exploitation that eventually resulted from all the effort put in earlier.

    1. Tim Almond

      Re: Lying, on a jet plane

      But it's not about whether something has doubled in efficiency, it's about how useful that doubling is. What does that actually equate to in terms of the economic savings to passengers? How does that compare to say, the difference between the 1950s and the 1970s when in the 1950s, passengers were having to stop off in Newfoundland and Ireland for fuel and it took around 20 hours?

      It's like say, DVD vs Blu-Ray. Everyone switched to DVD because it was so much nicer to watch, cut down storage, didn't break so easily. But most people I know haven't upgraded to Blu-Ray yet. It's nicer, but not so much that they care much about spending money for the extra resolution.

      1. DaveDaveDave

        Re: Lying, on a jet plane

        "What does that actually equate to in terms of the economic savings to passengers? How does that compare to say, the difference between the 1950s and the 1970s when in the 1950s, passengers were having to stop off in Newfoundland and Ireland for fuel and it took around 20 hours?"

        Well, for starters it equates to massive cost-savings for today's passengers. Airline tickets are massively cheaper in real terms now than they were in the seventies.

        And as for range, the 737-200 had range of 1900 nautical miles. Modern 737-NGs have a max range of 6340 nautical miles. Obviously that gives vastly increased route-options for narrowbodies. (All figures at MTOW.)

        Then there's the 747. In the early seventies you could get the 747-100, which had a max range of 5300nmi. Modern 747s have a range of 8000nmi.

  10. Zog_but_not_the_first Silver badge

    A missing piece of the puzzle

    One significant piece of the puzzle when considering the economics of the post-war economy vs current fiscal performance is the role of the Nationalised Industries.

    These are generally assumed to be "industrial dinosaurs" characterised by bureaucracy and inefficiency; both of which are, to a degree, deserved criticisms. But leaving aside the technological developments that have, and would have (in can be argued), benefitted all players, is BT really more efficient than the GPO?

    These industries played an important part in maintaining the nation's infrastructure, addressing long-term strategic issues as well as the day-to-day supply of electricity/gas/telecoms etc. We are currently dangerously close to rolling power cuts from the privatised electricity supply industry, where the Government's only response is to bribe the private operators to keep plant open. Contrast that situation to the CEGB's role in operating and maintaining capacity and planning for and providing future power plant. Which is better?

    An underreported aspect of the Nationalised Industry structure was the provision of hundreds of thousands of well-paid jobs, putting money into local communities. Through an enlightened policy of the self-improvement of staff through apprenticeships and part-time education students were given the chance to reach their potential. This, I believe, was an important contributor to increased social mobility in the past.

    I'm not advocating the establishment of a "command and control" economy, but I do think there is a valuable debate to be had on the benefits of a return to a mixed economy that includes modern state-owned and run industries. The argument against this is usually one invoking globalisation. I travel a fair bit for business and pleasure but I'm not a "Citizen of the World". I live in a village, my family and friends are generally within a few hours drive and I get provisions from local shops, eat in local restaurants and drink in local pubs. The benefits of globalisation to international capital are easy to see, but it's increasingly hard to see them for ordinary people. Unless you think the accumulation of landfill tat makes it all worthwhile.

    We had the chance recently to compare the benefits of a private industry's operation of a utility with a modern state-owned alternative in the franchise award for the East Coast line operation. Directly Operated Railways, which had been doing a sterling job of running the operation, was not allowed to bid. Dogma dictated that the operation must return to the private sector. A great pity, I think.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A missing piece of the puzzle

      Every 60 - 70 years the communally paid for infrastructure is sold off (cheaply) to those in power, those assets are then run down (whilst operating profits are distributed to the new owners) until the infrastructure collapses and the public (if they want services to continue) are forced to invest anew.

      This cycle is repeated just out of living memory (but is certainly inside the 'families' memory)

      For those that might be cynical about this point of view should read 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists' by Robert Tressel, written in 1910 there is discussion of the privatisation of the gasworks - did anybody tell Sid in 86?

  11. Identity
    WTF?

    GIGO

    As a dedicated cruciverbalist, I often run into the word 'olio,' which might be defined as a mishmash — a good definition for the thinking behind this article. There are so many unconsidered factors that trying make it jibe with reality is a stretch. I haven't got much time, so here are just a couple.

    Regardless of GDP or productivity rates (which in any event are as dependent on the level of technology as anything else), big unions (in the US at least) allowed many — especially those with lesser educations — to make a decent middle-class living. The death of unions was coupled with automation and off-shoring and led to a mass decline in living standards. Look at Detroit. Who, ultimately, didn't suffer? The top 10% and even more so, the top 1%. Here, they like to fancy themselves job-creators and makers, but given that actual labor and production is done by someone else, you could as easily think them economic vampires, and (with regard to automation and off-shoring) job-craters. Real wages for most have not increased in 40 years.

    Speaking of technology, remember that computers started as a means for better artillery calculation — surely a wartime advance. One needn't look too far to see how that blossomed into a productivity engine.

    Then we have the matter of standard of living. Lots of things are better. In the forties, no one had a TV nor a Cuisinart nor any of a thousand other advances. It's easy to make the case that social factors have declined — families have disintegrated, in many places children no longer are familiar with nature, neighborhoods are vastly in decline, along with the support groups they fostered, (suggest reading: Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community <http://www.amazon.com/Bowling-Alone-Collapse-American-Community/dp/0743203046/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419181527&sr=1-1&keywords=bowling+alone+the+collapse+and+revival+of+american+community>) Medical care and knowledge has surely advanced. On that score (again in the US) medical care is the largest cause of bankruptcy. BigPhRMA provides these miracles at an unaffordable cost. Look at the cost of early AIDS medication or more recently, Gilead Sciences hepatitis cure.

    Worldwide, where once poor backward countries were the rule, now everyone aspires to the American lifestyle. There are matters of competition, supply and demand to consider, now over a MUCH larger base. One hundred yeas ago, world population was about 1 billion, and that largely rural. Today, it's pushing 7 billion from one side or the other and most are urban. Economic stresses from this alone make me goggle.

    OK, out of time, so one last technical point — when you try to compare rates over time periods, it's misleading to lay a 26 year period against an array of 6—10 year periods. Go read "How to Lie with Statistics' <http://www.amazon.com/How-Lie-Statistics-Darrell-Huff/dp/0393310728/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1419181214&sr=1-1&keywords=how+to+lie+with+statistics>

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: GIGO

      'There are matters of competition, supply and demand to consider, now over a MUCH larger base'

      Much more demand

      So why do we have so many unemployed ?

      There was huge domestic demand in the 50's and low unemployment

      There is now huge foreign demand and we have high unemployment

      There is no risk without reward and nobody will take risk without backstopping.

      (enter the BoE/ECB/Fed/BoC/BoJ etc)

      And nobody takes the risk of properity for everyone.

      There is something rotten in the state of [Denmark]

      How do you account for that ?

      1. Identity

        Re: GIGO

        In the 50's, economic activity returned after being constrained by the war (not counting the war machine). Men returning from war had either jobs or the GI Bill, while women generally left the workforce to raise families, etc. (That's a gloss, but you get the idea).

        Today's greater demand, due to a larger customer base, is met by 1) more productive workers (largely due to technology), so fewer are needed 2) automation, requiring a much smaller workforce 3) low-cost foreign workers displacing high-cost locals. Where manufacturing, etc is returning ("on-shoring"), those workers are required to work at salaries and benefits significantly inferior to those of previous generations. I'm speculating about numbers, but I suspect that for every Google engineer driving up costs in San Francisco, there are at least a thousand WalMart and Amazon employees who, despite working full time, are thrown onto Government largesse due to the differential between what they're paid and the cost of living.

        Banks appear more interested in their own profit than in benefiting society. The debacle of 2008 should be proof of that. Contrast that with the attitude exemplified by "It's a Wonderful Life" <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0038650/>. The bank no longer carries your loan — it slices and dices it and serves it up as a derivative. On that score, the derivatives market exceeds the actual economy (global GDP) by a factor of 10!

        So here we run up against a question of whether the consensual fiction of money is more important than actual flesh and blood persons; whether corporations are more important than a living planet.

  12. Purple-Stater

    Overly Complex

    Economic growth is based on very little more than consumption. There will be growth as long as demand is greater than production. The period after WWI is an excellent example of this, and the decades after WWII are pretty much the epitome. Most of what we called "the civilized world" was destroyed and it was a seller's market for pretty much anything. High demand for goods led to high demand for labor, leading to higher wages, leading to more demand for luxury goods... etc, etc, and it was more than two decades of whirlwind growth. Government(s) invested heavily in new technologies (or implementation of previously-unused earlier advances) because it a necessity to meet demand.

    But during that period of mad growth those countries with destroyed infrastructures were rebuilt. As a very key point, they were rebuilt with the newest and most technologically advanced systems that existed, which catapulted them to the top of the list of producing countries, leap-frogging the countries that helped them rebuild. Post-WWII the USA (un)arguably led the pack, with Britain following close behind. But, at the end of the example, by the 1970s Germany, China, and Japan left them us both the proverbial dust.

    Since then, well, not a lot of growth in demand overall. There's seldom been a time where a ready supply of laborers was not available, so there's been general wage-stagnation (yes, there have been a few key high-growth industries coming and going, but I'm speaking of things as a whole), and without wage growth exceeding the rise in cost of basic living expenses, a lower demand for luxury items. Not matching the post-war boom years should be no surprise at all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Overly Complex

      'Since then, well, not a lot of growth in demand overall.'

      Wow ! all these new people on the planet not wanting (for) anything.

      1. Purple-Stater

        Re: Overly Complex

        "Wow ! all these new people on the planet not wanting (for) anything."

        That sort of new demand is slow-growth (reliant on new people being born and aging). Immediately post-WWII that demand for new things was nearly universal. Significantly different in scale.

  13. Northernsoulboy

    Government

    In three of the comments immediately above, air travel, big pharma and power generation are discussed. There doesn't seem to be any recognition that a large part of the cost involved in air travel, in bringing new drugs to market and in producing electricity is soaked up in regulation and tax.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

      Re: Government

      I'd like my plane not to crash (so current regulation a success), my medicine not to kill me (more regulation needed unless big pharma starts releasing all the data they collect on drug trials) and my power plants not to blow up or pollute my air (regulation, again, probably okay). And, although you don't mention them, I'd also like the banks not to destroy the economy (more regulation needed)

      And the tax, well... Oh, I'm wasting my time, aren't I?

  14. DocJames
    Thumb Up

    Great article

    Not least as Tim says he (and everyone else, FWIW) don't actually know what the right answer is.

    My opinion is that there are probably multiple "better" solutions than where we are currently, and are probably in different directions. I'm not sure that as many of them are more stable though. (This is probably anathema to everyone, as their opponents might be correct. It seems in economics and politics it's more important to prove the opposition wrong than be right yourself.)

    1. sandman

      Re: Great article

      Agreed - some interesting and thoughtful comments as well. I particularly like the way Tim doesn't hide his ideological slant. I'm not sure such thoughtful behaviour is allowed on the Reg, can we just get back to the usual mindless insults?

      1. BoldMan

        Re: Great article

        Someone said it right at the beginning - Economics needs to be taught the fundamental principle that

        correlation != causality

        Proper sciences understand this, but most of the "modern" (pseudo) sciences such as Economics and Climate Change don't seem to get this so keep repeating mantras that are obviously false to anyone with half a working brain.

  15. Ute Man

    Cyclical economic and government cycle is cyclical

    Something that our small government, bullsh*t artist libertarian leaning idiot friends never want to acknowledge is that government backed research is an inevitable driver of progress, not private companies.

    Private companies don't and can't truly do new research. There's no better way to disseminate the tech cheaply than privatise it and reward the scientists / technologists but the simple matter is, when our governments are brow beaten into cutting back on universities and fundamental research, we all suffer.

    You'll be waiting a long time for our rent seeking corporations to do anything other than establish a rental and then lobby to maintain it, to the point of owning our governments and the public conversation of what government should do. What we truly lack is a proper reset on our public institutions and political process to get it back from being owned by private interests and back into being owned by public interests.

    1. Tim Worstal

      Re: Cyclical economic and government cycle is cyclical

      I'm really not all that sure about this:

      "Private companies don't and can't truly do new research."

      In my own business activities I've (helped to) subsidise research into solid oxide fuel cells. The crucial point at issue being what should the cathode/anode be made of.

      And I've most certainly spent considerable sums on basic research in how to extract rare earths from red mud.

      And in the larger world, Bell Labs did quite a lot with transistors, didn't they? And didn't IBM just come up with hafnium oxide as a part of faster chips?

  16. All names Taken
    Paris Hilton

    re jet planes and things

    As in my earlier post I referred to UK's olde worlde ways of doing things (typified in film: Metropolis and in book: Brave New World) only a few people would ever wish, desire or have opportunity to board a plane pre-1970s. As for continental travel 100 quid per person was the maximum you could take out the country and destination nation might mean UK and overseas police visits on a daily basis

    That was the UK's communism of the time and mindset of the establishment?

  17. Gary Bickford

    Must look at worldwide growth, not just local

    Immediately post WWII growth was still mostly 'local' - nations were still more closed economies than open, and the majority of trade of manufactured goods was between first world nations. Globalization and advancement of other nations toward mature economies with real middle-class means that the growth has spread across the world. Part of the effect is that those nations that had the highest standards of living are inevitably going to have slower growth while the rest of the world catches up. National and international economic policies for the last 50 years have been strongly directed to encourage that process, with tariffs falling everywhere and free trade agreements encouraging distribution of economic activity.

    For better or worse, growth is now based in a global ecosystem. Growth within an individual nation today is much more about the relative competitiveness of that nation vs. others, than of any other factor. Big Gov can only get in the way - its only true effect is to generate internal 'heat' by reducing the efficiency of the 'engine'.

  18. fearnothing

    Pick your prejudice, fill in the blanks to fit it.

    On these grounds, I am going to write an essay on how the Titanic movie was an exercise in prophetic allegory, clearly predicting the sub-prime fiasco 10 years later.

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