Is France’s economy really less ‘competitive’ than Britain’s?

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Our tweet of the day, from a former external member of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee:

This post is just a reminder, really, about all the nonsense that is spoken in the name of ‘competitiveness.’

Of course, this is just quarterly data, and the UK was recently growing faster than France. We aren’t going to get into details in this short blog.

More broadly, in the United Kingdom it is taken as a given among the chattering classes that Britain has a more ‘competitive’ economy than France does: you know, all those savage cuts to corporation tax and that kind of thing. It must be more competitive! Everyone just knows it!

But there are all kinds of things that call this received wisdom into question. As a reminder, via our recent Martin Wolf blog, we saw this from the FT:

UK-France productivity UK-France-productivity-1


More substantially, for those who are new to our output:

  • The whole notion of national ‘competitiveness is, in general terms, woolly-headed nonsense.
  • What people call ‘competitiveness’ *could* (perhaps) be construed as being, as Paul Krugman put it, just “a funny way of talking about productivity.” (Labour productivity is a central component of productivity.)

So look at these graphs: just how, er, ‘competitive’ is the UK’s economy relative to France’s? How has all this corporate tax-cutting and giveaways of shiny toys to the global élites, alongside these cuts to benefits and public services, affected Britain’s overall economic performance?

Well, decide for yourself. These graphs aren’t the end of the story, but still . . .

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