British Economic Policy & Performance In The 20TH Century

The Political Economy Of Modern Britain


Lectures and supporting material



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A.          Lectures





General introduction


Long-run economic performance I: a quantitative overview.


Long-run economic performance II: introducing the policy issues.


The growth of the state: introduction and quantitative assessment.


Interpreting economic policy: a guide to competing methodologies.


Pre-1914: a laissez-faire state?


Economic performance in the late Victorian and Edwardian era.


The economic role of the state in 1914.


The First World War


Towards the managed economy, 1918–39


Interwar economic performance I: macroeconomic trends.


Interwar economic performance II: business cycle and structural change.


Interwar economic policy I: postwar reconstruction 1918–24.


Case Study I: why Britain returned to the gold standard in April 1925?


Interwar economic policy II: the effects of return to the gold standard 1924–9.


Interwar economic policy III: world depression 1929–32.


Interwar economic policy IV: recovery and rearmament 1932–9.


Interwar economic policy V: monetary policy.


Interwar economic policy VI: fiscal policy.


The transition, 1939-45


A Keynesian revolution?


The British economy and the Second World War.


Taking stock and Christmas quiz.


Economic management and the golden age of capitalism 1945–73


Economic performance I: macroeconomic trends.


Economic performance II: business cycle and structural change.


Economic policy I: postwar reconstruction 1945–51.


Economic policy II: ‘Butskellism’ 1951–64.


Case Study II: why the Labour government resisted devaluation for so long?


Economic policy III: towards stagflation 1964–73.


Economic policy IV: fiscal policy.


Economic policy V: monetary policy.


Economic policy VI: the end of the Keynesian era.


Economic policy VII: the economic role of the state in 1973.


The crisis of the managed economy, 1973–97


Economic performance: an overview since OPEC I.


Economic policy I: Labour 1974–9 and the crisis of the postwar consensus.


Economic policy II: the Thatcherite project, 1979–90


Economic policy III: the Thatcher legacy: Major-Blair, 1990–7


Economic decline: institutional issues and long-run trends


The UK economy and the international economy.


The City of London and finance capital.


Organized capital.


Organized labour.




Economic theory and economic policy.


Conclusions: a century of economic decline; market failure or state impotence?


B.           Figures

2.1         OECD-16: real GDP per worker-hour (1990 US$) in 1870 (UK=100) and annual average growth rate of real GDP per worker-hour, 1870–1992.

2.2         UK, Germany, US and OECD-16 averages: real GDP per worker-hour, 1870, 1938 and 1992.

3.1         Current account balance of payments as % of GDP, 1870–1989.

3.2         Number of working days lost due to strikes, 1893–1985.

3.3         Triangular policy space.

4.1         Equity-efficiency trade-off(s).

4.2         Summary indicators of public sector size, 1900 and 1979.

4.3         OECD-16: real GDP/capita and general government expenditure as % of GDP, 1980.

4.4         Total public expenditure as % of GDP at current market prices, 1900–93.

4.5         Total public sector receipts and taxation as % of GDP at current market prices, 1900–93.

4.6         Rates of income tax, financial years, 1890–1996.

5.1         Interaction of economic ideas and events.

5.2         Policy paradigms.

7.1         Total public expenditure by functional classification as % of GDP at current market prices, selected years, 1900–13.

8.1         UK and Germany: real GDP (1913=100), actual and 1899–1913 trend extrapolated, 1899–1920.

9.1         OECD: 1913 trade ratio and ratio of 1920 to 1913 real GDP.

9.2         Shares of world exports (1913) and real GDP growth, 1913–38

9.3         Area composition of UK exports (1910–14) and recipient countries’ annual average real GDP growth rates, 1913–38.

9.4         GDP per man-year, UK and G-7* countries, 1873–99, 1924–37.

9.5         Current account balance of payments (as % of GDP), 1920–39

9.6         Unemployment, 1920–39.

10.1      Fluctuations in real GDP and unemployment, 1920–38.

10.2      Capacity utilization and retail prices 1918–39.

13.1      Sterling exchange rates (annual averages), 1920–38.

13.2      Multilateral real UK effective exchange rates (January 1924=100), 1920–30.

14.1      Industrial production (current prices 1929=100),1933.

15.1      Percentage change in GDP and manufacturing production, 1929–37.

15.2      Weekly carrying cost of a new mortgage, 1931–4.

15.3      Residential construction, half years ending September 1932–September 1937.

17.1      Cyclical properties of the government budget.

17.2      GDP at current prices, actual and trend, 1929/30–1939/40.

21.1      Germany and UK: real GDP, actual and 1929–37 trend extrapolated (1913=100).

21.2      Current account balance of payments as % of GDP, 1946–74.

21.3      Growth of merchandise export volumes (1950=100), 1950–73.

21.4      Current account balance of payments as % of GDP by sector, 1946–79.

21.5      Unemployment rate, 1945–73.

22.1      GDP growth rate and unemployment rate (%), 1948–73.

22.2      GDP growth rate and current account balance of payments, 1948–74.

23.1      Industrial production at constant prices (1938=100), 1947–50.

26.1      Unemployment and inflation rates, 1967–75.

27.1      Public sector receipts and expenditure at constant employment as percentage of constant employment GNP, 1950–73.

27.2      Public sector budget balance at constant employment as percentage of constant employment GNP, 1950–73.

30.1      Farmers’ net income and Exchequer support, 1955/6–75/6.

31.1      Growth rate of real GDP and unemployment rate, 1973–97.

31.2      G-7 economies: growth rates of real GDP, 1973–97.

31.3      Current account balance of payments as % of GDP, 1973–97.

35.1      Current account balance of payments as % of GDP, 1870–1989.

36.1      GDFCF (less construction) and net overseas lending, 1870–1913.

38.1      Number of working days lost through industrial disputes, 1890–1997.


C.          Tables

2.1         Economic growth performance: UK and comparators, selected years, 1870–1992.

2.2         Maddison’s (1991) system characteristics and four epochs.

2.3         UK growth accounting: real output, inputs and total factor productivity, average annual growth rates, 1856–1979.

2.4         UK, US and Germany: identifiable forces explaining GDP growth, annual average compound % points contributions to GDP growth, 1950–73.

3.1         Britain’s development transition and the European norm, selected years, 1760–1910.

4.1         Functions of the state.

4.2         OECD: general government expenditure and current receipts as % of GDP at current prices, selected years, 1950–90.

4.3         Total public expenditure as % of GDP at current market prices, by economic category and functional classification, selected years, 1900–93.

4.4         Public sector receipts as % of GDP at current market prices, selected years, 1900–93.

6.1         Growth of GDP, total factor inputs and total factor productivity (annual percentage growth rates): business cycles, peak-to-peak, 1856–1913.

7.1         Total public expenditure by economic classification as % of GDP at current market prices, 1900–13.

7.2         Public sector receipts as % of GDP at current market prices, 1900–13.

7.3         UK and comparators: general government expenditure as % of GDP, 1880 and 1913.

8.1         Public sector’s direct claim on resources as % of GDP, 1913–18.

9.1         G-7: growth of real GDP, capital, labour, TFI and TFP (annual percentage growth rates), 1870–1973.

9.2         Computed costs of First World War, direct and indirect, $m.

9.3         GDP indices (1913=100) for G-7 countries, selected years 1913–37.

9.4         UK growth: real output, inputs and TFP (average annual growth rates), 1873–1937.

10.1      Index of GDP and components, selected years (1924=100).

10.2      TFP by sector (annual percentage growth rates), 1856–1985.

10.3      Regional unemployment rates (insured persons aged 16–64), Ministry of Labour Divisions, 1923–37.

10.4      Regional employment growth (insured persons aged 16–64), Ministry of Labour Divisions, 1923–37.

11.1      GDP and components, employment and unemployment 1919–24.

11.2      UK public sector accounts as % of GDP, 1913–21.

13.1      GDP and components, employment and unemployment, 1924–9.

14.1      UK balance of payments: merchandise trade and current balance, 1929–32.

14.2      GDP and components, employment and unemployment, 1929–32.

14.3      UK economic indicators (% change), 1929–32.

15.1      GDP and components, employment and unemployment, 1932–7.

15.2      GDP and components, employment and unemployment, 1937–9.

15.3      Consumers’ expenditure (constant prices), 1936–9.

15.4      Average duration and amplitude of cycles in GDP (constant prices) and employment, business cycles (peak-to-peak), 1873–1973.

16.1      Bank rate (%), 1931–2.

16.2      Burden of national debt (ratios), 1913/14–1979.

16.3      GDFCF by sector as % of GDP, averages, 1924–9, 1933–8 and 1967–77.

17.1      Central government receipts, expenditure and budget balance: actual and constant employment, 1929/30–1939/40.

19.1      GDP and components, employment and unemployment, 1939–45.

19.2      Balance of payments: current account (£ millions), 1939–45.

21.1      Direct costs of Second World War, $m at 1939 prices.

21.2      Average annual growth rates (%), selected periods, 1856–1987.

21.3      UK and comparators: growth rates of real GDP, real GDP/capita and real GDP/worker-hour, 1950–73.

21.4      UK and comparators: real GDP, real GDP/capita and real GDP/worker-hour (1990 international dollars), 1950 and 1973.

21.5      UK growth: real output, inputs and TFP, average annual growth rates (%), 1924–37 and 1951–73.

21.6      GDFCF as % of GDP, 1950–73

21.7      G-7** shares of world manufactures exports (%), selected years, 1950–88.

21.8      Inflation and standardised unemployment rates, G-7** economies, 1950–73.

22.1      GDP and components at 1985 market prices (1948=100), business cycle peaks, 1948–73.

22.2      Comparative labour productivity by sector, 1935–9 and 1977.

22.3      Labour productivity growth from catch-up (percentage points per year), 1950–73.

22.4      Distribution of exports by market, UK and comparators (percentage of total exports), 1955 and 1973.

22.5      Increase in regional unemployment rate associated with a one percentage point rise in UK unemployment ,1949–64.

22.6      Employment in manufacturing as % of total civilian employment, selected years, 1960–80.

23.1      GDP and components, employment and unemployment, 1945–51.

23.2      Balance of payments: current account (£m.), 1945–51.

24.1      British political facts, 1945–97.

24.2      Real GDP and components, employment and unemployment, selected years, 1951–64.

24.3      Merchandise trade account (current prices), selected years, 1951–64.

26.1      Real GDP and components, employment and unemployment, selected years, 1963–73.

26.2      Balance of payments: current account, £ millions, 1960–74.

26.3      UK average annual percentage change in retail prices, 1935–75.

26.4      OECD: annual percentage change in consumer prices, 1967–75.

26.5      Exports and imports of goods, 1967–74.

27.1      Public expenditure by programme and economic category at constant employment as percentage of constant employment GNP, selected years, 1950–73.

27.2      Public sector receipts by category at constant employment as percentage of constant employment GNP, selected years, 1950–73.

28.1      Monetary indicators, 1946–74.

30.1      OECD: structure of taxation as percentage of total tax receipts and social security contributions, and total taxation and social security contributions as percentage of GNP at factor cost, 1979.

31.1      Annual percentage growth rates of real GDP, 1951–97.

31.2      UK and other G-7 states and EU, G-7 and OECD-17 averages: comparative macroeconomic performance, 1950–73 and 1973–97.

31.3      UK and comparators: economic growth performance, 1950–97.

31.4      Output growth by sector (annual percentage growth rates), 1950/1–1987/8.

31.5      Growth of labour productivity (annual percentage growth rates), 1951–88.

31.6      UK manufacturing: value-added and labour productivity) annual percentage growth rates), 1970–92.

31.7      UK and comparators: productivity in business sector (annual percentage growth rates), 1960–97

31.8      UK and comparators: labour productivity in manufacturing (annual percentage growth rates), 1973–88.

32.1      General elections, 1974.

32.2      Wages, prices and real disposable income, 1974–9.

32.3      Real GDP and components, employment and unemployment, 1974–9.

32.4      Growth of public expenditure at constant prices (%), 1973/4–78/9.

33.1      Real GDP and components at 1990 prices, employment and unemployment, 1979–90.

33.2      MTFS: £M3 and PSBR targets and outturns, 1978/9–1983/4.

34.1      Real GDP and components at 1990 prices, employment and unemployment, 1990–7.

34.2      The Washington economics consensus.

35.1      Ranking (by GDP) of top ten countries, 1820 and 1992.

35.2      Exports per capita at current prices and exchange rates, selected years, 1900–86.

35.3      Shares of world exports of manufactures, G-7* countries, selected years, 1881–1979.

35.4      Commodity composition of UK’s external trade, selected years, 1928–78.

35.5      UK regional trade pattern, selected years, 1928–78.

35.6      Arithmetic mean of trade-income ratios (%), selected periods, 1875–1975.

35.7      Overseas assets and liabilities at current prices, selected years, 1856–1973.

36.1      Growth of financial services sector, 1961–83.

36.2      Output shares of services in GDP and employment, selected years, 1953–83.

36.3      City of London: net overseas earnings (£m. current prices), selected years, 1946–88.

36.4      Ownership of company shares (% of market value), selected years, 1957–75.

37.1      Trends in aggregate and plant concentration, selected years, 1909–82.

37.2      Changes in industrial and market concentration, 1935–83.

37.3      Employment in manufacturing, 1935 and 1984.

38.1      Britain and comparators: trade union density (% of labour force), selected years, 1900–76.

38.2      Trade union density by sector: UK and US in the early 1970s.

38.3      Trade union expansion, work stoppages, inflation and economic growth, 1958–77.

38.4      G-7: number of working days lost through industrial disputes, 1964–76.

38.5      Strike activity in the public sector relative to total strike activity, 1966–76.

40.1      Predicted improvements in net output/head from achieving best practice standards throughout British manufacturing (%) in 1967/8.

40.2      Labour productivity comparisons in international companies: reasons for productivity differential, 1972.

40.3      Estimates of the distribution of UK incomes before tax, selected years, 1867–1976/7.

40.4      Inequality of pre-tax income of households in the early 1970s.



D.          Supplemetary data


·             Seminar 2: Benchmarking policy and performance

·             Seminar 4: Interwar balance of payments

·             Seminar 5: Interwar motor vehicles


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ÓRoger Middleton 2003