Costing the country: Britain’s finance curse

John Christensen - 5th October 2018

A report published today from Andrew Baker of the Sheffield Political Economy Research Institute, Gerald Epstein, University of Massachusetts, and Juan Montecino, Columbia University, NY, suggests that the cost to the UK economy in terms of lost growth potential arising from hosting an oversized financial services industry was in the region of £4,500 billion between 1995 and 2015. In other words, had the City of London been smaller and focused on more useful functions, Britain might have enjoyed a cumulative boost to GDP over this period worth £4.5 trillion. That is equivalent to around £67,500 for every woman, man and child in the UK. With another recession in the pipeline, the spectre of the Finance Curse looms darkly over the UK economy.

In the fallout from the 2007-8 global banking crisis the financial sector lost some of its aura of invincibility. Once the bailouts had been paid, what had previously seemed like rewards for hard work and quick wits began to look like the proceeds of incompetence and criminality on such a scale that it daunted the public authorities. But even if the criminality and self-dealing could be checked by regulation, is London’s massive finance sector nonetheless a drag on the rest of the economy?... See more

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