economics growth

Britain’s post growth future

Looking at Britain’s economy back in January, I concluded that growth was seriously unlikely this year, and that it was entirely possible for Britain’s economy to go the way of Japan and hit a plateau. (To my mind, this is not necessarily a bad thing)

However, in a survey of 78 British economists, only one was brave enough to predict a double-dip recession. That was Andrew Simms of the new economics foundation, who is probably no longer alone in his analysis. Most economists were hoping for a modest rebound, the government for a more substantial one.

Others were willing to ask more difficult questions, and one of them is financial services company Tullett Prebon. They began to do a little research under the name ‘Project Armageddon’, a working title that they admit “certainly wasn’t intended for publication.” The purpose of the project was to investigate the possibility that both the government and the opposition are both right – that austerity measures were necessary, but that they would inevitably result in a period of flat growth.

Several months later, Dr Tim Morgan has released his findings, and you can download it as Thinking the Unthinkable – Might there be no way out for Britain? “We conclude that Britain’s debts are unsupportable without sustained economic growth,” it says, “and that the economy, as currently configured, is aligned against growth.”

If that’s true, then Britain has just entered a postgrowth state. Welcome.


  1. Hurray – even without trying, perhaps we have got to where we needed to go.

    But of course, not all lack of growth is equal. It is not simply that GDP needs to stop rising, but that consumption of material resources needs to fall. And for that goal, we need to look not only at a single country, but at the global system. While the UK continues to import large quantities of material goods from elsewhere, then achieving “post-growth” here while fuelling demand for China’s ongoing boom means that we’re still part of the problem.

    I don’t think I’m saying anything new for you, just musing aloud.

    1. Yes, and an unplanned slump in growth is nothing to celebrate if our response is to pump huge amounts of money in stimulus packages and stack up even more debt. As the Bank of England lines up another round of quantitative easing, that’s looking rather likely right now.

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