Last year I updated figures from the World Bank which showed that Britain’s economic performance, while very bad in comparison to most other countries, stood some chance of overtaking Greece’s. We’ve now done so, but it’s hardly a cause for rejoicing. The table shows an index of Gross National Income per capita. The sad fact is that Britain has not recovered from its deep economic slump, and that income per capita has not recovered to its level in 2008 or 2009.
The UK Government uses two devices to make the figures look better than they are. One is to refer to national income as a whole, rather than GNI or GDP per capita. The other is to choose 2010 as the start date, because the UK economy has grown (very slightly) since 2010, when most of others at the bottom of the table have shrunk. While this has been going on, Japan and Singapore have overtaken the UK at speed; countries which formerly had roughly comparable incomes, including Germany, Australia and Canada, have left the UK economy standing; and even France, which the British press is fond of representing as a basket case, sustained less damage in the crisis and has maintained higher income per capita throughout. The spectacularly incompetent management of the UK economy by the current incumbents, who exacerbated the slump by withdrawing funds when they needed to be injecting resources, is a major part of the reason for its poor performance.