Sean O’Grady asked a question I had wanted to blog about for a while: which sort of growth figures best suit the Labour case? Given that their policies are based on the idea that Britain’s recovery is still fragile – and liable to be upset by a government spending retrenchment, as Keynesian effects swamp the non-Keynesian sort in the short run – it is not entirely clear that they would welcome news that the economy grew at 1% in the first quarter – when the first provisional estimates come out late April.
Which is what David Smith indicates might be likely, on the basis of industrial/manufacturing figures released already. Smith’s column also talks about employment figures. He is the first I have noticed make this point:
an essential counterpart to foreigners working in Britain is the fact that millions born in the UK work in other countries. There are no official figures for this but we know that of the hundreds of thousands who emigrate every year, a high proportion do so for work reasons. This is not to deny that some people have legitimate concerns about the pace of immigration in recent years. But let’s have the full picture.
This is extremely relevant when people worry about the effects of globalisation on UK employment. Suppose that 90% of well-educated workers stay in the UK and the rest work abroad. Also suppose that having a well-educated workforce increases the number of foreigners coming here to work in some lower-skilled jobs. Division of labour, I believe Smith may have called it. It is quite possible that a ‘successful UK’ story could exist alongside stagnant UK-born-and-working-in-UK picture. Half my mates have worked abroad, because they are educated. It would be good to have a complete picture.
If the economy DOES grow fast, then debates about the pace of cutting and monetary-stimulus withdrawal become far more acute. But so far the debate remains about that tiny amount (in macroeconomic terms) that the Tories promise to cut off spending and use on adjusting NI thresholds. Phony war, or what.
More later. My kids are saying “why don’t you play with me?” Guilt beckons me away, even though ignoring them has projected me up to 75 in Wikio.