David Cameron, having gone from “Britain is back in business” to “there are red warning signs ahead” in just nine months, nevertheless continues to insist that we are “outperforming everyone else” and “the data prove it”. Are we? Do they? Judge for yourselves. France, we’re constantly told, is a basket-case. Whereas we are ‘growing’ and ‘recovering’, France is all over the place and getting deeper in debt. So you’d expect that to be reflected in exports. If, that is, our ‘growth’ is in any way helping us as a nation.
Well guess what: it isn’t.
French goods export value is UP a staggering 25% since 2009. That provides the country with a total of €640bn in income.
British goods export value is up only 14.7% over the same period. They bring us in just €360bn.
The UK also has some surprisingly large export sectors. Our biggest (for example) is jewellery and precious metal objects – nearly £1 in 5 of all exports. And a huge part of it concerns oil trading – 3 out of the top ten items – reserves of which we’re using up at an alarming rate….and most of which we would lose if Scotland secedes from the Union.
Other unexpected biggies include cars (but we don’t own any of the companies), whisky, blood plasma and art.
By contrast, France has rather more recognised, long-term monsters machinery, electronics, pharmaceuticals and cosmetics.
But by far the biggest difference is in agriculture, where France has 2.5 times the agricultural base, and 6 times the arable land area, compared to the UK.
In short, we are outperforming others because of the same old same old: the City and its services ak paper-shuffling nonsense. Our economy in terms of physical exports and agriculture is even more bizarrely unbalanced than it was in 2010. Like them or not – basket-case or not – the French are better-prepared for what Cameron knows is coming.
And even he must now realise how bad it’s going to be, because he’s talking about it before the election. I think we can be fairly sure that this wasn’t in the game plan.
But finally, we must return to a topic which the Camerlot coalition has done a remarkably good job of pushing off the front pages: our deficit/debt fiasco. And on that front, we really are getting nowhere at all.
This year, France’s deficit is projected at 4.4%. Britain’s is at 5.6%. The French national debt is €1.94trillion, or 88% of gdp. Britain’s is €2.42trillion, representing 90.6% of gdp.
But look at the acceleration in our debt versus France and Germany:
Ours went through the roof after 2006. The two tribes we have to thank for this are senior Whitehall civil servant pensions and City bankers. Together, these two groups represent a staggering 63% of all UK debt liabilities.
So lets say that Dave’s Red Warning Lights include rising interest rates, collapsing export demand, increasing food prices and sovereign debt management.
Remembering that most EU traders and analysts see France as a medium term basket case, where does that leave us?
As I have long fancied they would, Camerlot has mis-timed its recovery bollocks, and is about to run out of road. From here on, I’m going to resist the temptation to make forecasts about the May 2015 General Election.