UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Phillip Hammond (finance minister) delivered his budget on Wednesday last week. The tame budget was overshadowed by news that UK productivity and hence economic growth had stalled. In this post I search for the underlying causes of economic malaise and explore the structure of UK GDP; UK Government and private debt levels; demographics, in particular our ageing population; Higher Education policy, in particular over-production of sub-prime graduates and lastly UK Energy Policy that is focussed on high cost inefficient energy systems.
It has been frustrating to say the least listening to politicians, their advisors and a host of media commentators proclaim surprise and bewilderment that the UK economy seemed to be broken. Since no one seems to know how it broke, then it is clear no one will know how to fix it, if it can indeed be fixed. In this post I voice opinions on several factors that have combined to create these unwelcome circumstances and in the traditions of this blog, there is an energy theme, which I will leave until last touching on the topics of debt, demographics and sub-prime education en-route.
In very simple terms, the size of the UK economy can be expressed as the number of people times their average economic output. A refined measure would be the number of working-age people (16 to 66) times their average economic output. Economic growth is defined as the percentage change of this aggregate productivity from one year to the next. With the current economic model, growth is vital to the country since it feeds directly through to tax receipts used to deliver public services such as health care, welfare, education and defence. The level of aggregate borrowing (national debt) considered prudent may also be compared to GDP. If GDP growth stalls, so does the ability of the government to borrow prudently to finance public services.
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