Strong Recoveries Ain't What They Used to Be: The Case of the U.K. and Simon Nixon

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Monday, 21 October 2013 15:05

Simon Nixon appears nearly ecstatic over the what he terms the "strong recovery" in the United Kingdom. The problem is his notion of strong recovery doesn't fit the usual definition of the term.

According to the new upgraded growth projections from the I.M.F., which he highlights, the U.K. is projected to see 1.6 percent year over year growth in 2013. That would leave per capita income in 2013 about 6.0 percent below its 2007 level. The new upgraded projections show per capita income in the UK getting back to its 2007 level in 2018. Eleven years of zero rise in per capita GDP is certainly a new definition of success.

Even worse, this recovery is almost certainly not sustainable since it is being driven by a re-invigoration of the U.K.'s housing bubble. House prices in the U.K. are on average about 60 percent higher than in the U.S.. (In the mid-1990s they were about 10 percent less.) They are again rising rapidly driven in part by a policy of the Cameron government to promote homeownership that seems deliberately designed to re-inflate its housing bubble in advance of the election. Of course after bubble bursts we can expect another grand chorus of "who could have known?"