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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent study of Britain's declining economy
Larry Elliott, the Guardian's economics editor, and Dan Atkinson, the Mail on Sunday's economics editor, have produced another fine book on Britain's economic ills. Their record is good: their 2007 book Fantasy Island warned that Brown's claim to have ended boom and bust was nonsense.

We have a chronic balance of payments deficit, a looming shortage of energy...
Published 24 months ago by William Podmore

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44 of 45 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An important message, undermined by overstatement and flippancy
The wheels came off the British economy in 2007, but that wasn't the beginning of the end for Britain, according to Elliott and Atkinson. The decline started a lot earlier than that - 1914 to be precise.

At the start of WW1 Britain was the world's only superpower, the world's leading exporter, and a major military power. A century later, we've experienced a...
Published 20 months ago by Jeremy Williams


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Truth About England's Economy?, 29 Mar 2013
By 
Charles - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
This book's writers are famous for a previous book they wrote called "Fantasy Island" that predicted the double dip recession. So it would appear they have a better understanding of the English economy than most of our so called "experts".

The book states that England has been in decline since 1850 but has in the past had crutches to hold it up but now those crutches are gone and we are going to be in trouble very soon. After 1850 English manufacturing lost its competitive edge, selling to the captured market of the empire kept this country going. The post war booms (and destroyed competition) created another boom and in the 1970s North Sea oil, the housing bubble, lending bubble and selling off state assets created another boom, but now these things are gone and there are no new crutches to help us.

A big chunk of the book is a history lesson about the English economy going from industrialization to the present day. The government is heavily criticized with such examples as: having illusion of grandeur pumping money into high profile high tech projects like Concord so England can feel we are still a major player when in reality there is no market for the product and the use of North Sea oil to fund tax cuts and welfare when the money should have been invested in infrastructure.

Crappy education is blamed for England's falling down the OECD's Pisa world education league tables, England's lack of competitiveness and also immigrants getting jobs over locals. The fact that Blair increased spending on education but we are still falling behind is pointed out as well. ( I should note that the Pearson study puts us at a respectable sixth world wide)

Some nitpicking criticisms of the book would be the lack of mentioning of increasing house prices has caused increases in rent that have gobbled up the increase in wages so for the most poor there has not been any real improvement in a long time. The increase in corporate profits while wages have not kept up is only briefly mentioned as well.

The claim that England will become a third world nation is certainly a controversial one, the authors define the term "third world nation" to mean "it is weak, dependent on outsiders for finance, skilled workers and energy supplies". Some of the examples of third worldness such as large numbers of people selling things in the streets or our political groups wanting charismatic leadership don't seem right to me. I think the authors have a good point but are exaggerating for dramatic effect.

Only on the second to last page does the book actually fill in the details of the claim on the cover, saying that in 2014 there is a large amount of banking dept due for refinancing which combined with squeezes on supplies of energy, metal and food will cause the excrement to hit the fan. Are the authors correct? We will have to wait and see...
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading, 6 Sep 2012
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
`Going South' by Larry Elliot & Dan Atkinson

This bleak analysis of the century long decline in the British political economy is one of several recent books that take a pessimistic view of our future, but it differs from some in giving bankers relatively bit parts in the drama while reserving leading roles for the truly deserving: our professional politicians. I was unconvinced by the sub-title `Why Britain Will Have a Third World Economy by 1914', and despite a catalogue of problems and policy mistakes that the authors draw attention to I remain so. In chapter 3 they list a number of features that Britain shares with underdeveloped countries: but each feature is matched with carefully selected countries. The list illustrates weaknesses, but does not describe a country that is a mere two years away from third-world status. One could just as easily identify features that Britain shares with selected developed countries.

However, I persisted with my reading and found that more convincing historical evidence with statistics is used to support the thesis: evidence that many with knowledge of economic history will be aware of. This is not a book for those who believe that Britain's problems became serious only with the election of the Blair government. The reader's attention is drawn to the policy errors of various leaders including Wilson, Heath and Thatcher. The main causes of decline are identified as complacency, misdirected investment, and the determination of politicians to maintain Britain's position as a major power in the world, largely through military spending. "Britain devoted a larger share of its R&D expenditure to military and space expenditure than did any other country except the USA, and the result was a crowding out of investment in other parts of the economy..." Chapter 4 presents a good historical summary, but does not raise the issue of globalisation.

We progress through the book to discover a list of promises and aims that various politicians have offered without fulfilling them. Anyone reading this list will find their faith in Britain's political elite sorely challenged. For example, we are reminded of the Saatchi poster `Britain isn't working' that helped to bring Thatcher to power in 1979: "After the 1979 election unemployment continued to rise, hitting 2 million in 1980 and 3 million in 1982." This example is but one of many.

The book predicts a second economic downturn in 2013, a contention with which I find it difficult to disagree. I remain sceptical of the sub-titles prediction of third-world status by 2014, but have to agree that if the authors have got the date wrong, they are correct about the direction in which Britain is moving. This book is well worth reading by anyone interested in Britain's political economy, despite it being somewhat over long, and poorly edited.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Scary but fascinating and educational, 3 Jun 2014
By 
Mr. M. V. Meyerstein (UK) - See all my reviews
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A very interesting and verifiable account of how Britain is regressing to being a third-world country. It is well thought out and presented in a very logical and rational style, without being in the least stuffy or dull. The history of our regression is followed and explained from 1914 until 2014. The events of 2014 are predictions, since the book was written a year of two ago. The authors predict a gradual slide into third world status, rather than a rapid collapse. Warning - you will not be a happier person after reading this book. But perhaps you will become a better informed and better prepared person.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and insightful, 16 Aug 2013
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Good insight, however rather dragged for my liking. Some his ideas are coming to fruition.This book was good when it first came out, but it would benefit from updating for today.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Tough read for a non-economist, 22 July 2013
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Economists write for specialists, not ordinary lay people like me :( anyway these two did a pretty good job on keeping a number of analogies like football clubs and example of other countries that have done it. One thing is clear, a lot of factors they have picked out are pretty relevant. But it's difficult to see who and how the change will come along this very habit pronged country. Britain has to resort to protectionism in order to compete with the other string economies of the world. Can they do it, remains to be seen.
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6 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read, 18 July 2012
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
This is a very informative book regarding the state of the country. It generally makes the common error of thinking that the terms UK/Britain/England are interchangeable or mean the same thing but if you ignore this, it will make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end. A must read for all Scottish, Welsh and Irish readers.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Clarifies what is wrong with GB, 11 May 2013
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
It explains why Great Britain is no longer a world power and our leaders should stop trying to convince us that we are. The book is simple to read. The book was in an excellent condition . I would recommend the seller to anybody
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but lacking in-depth analysis, 17 April 2013
By 
Miss N. Doshi (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
The authors' assessment of what it means to be a developing nation fails continuously to take into regard the power aspects of being "third world" - that which goes beyond the mere economic and instead drives the hegemonic. Britain's role in Imperial history is the cause of it's "developed" nature. That needs to be stated clearly and is not.

Otherwise a succinct argument on why Britain will economically fail soon, although its anti-immigrant stance leaves a somewhat bitter taste in my mouth.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth, 26 Nov 2012
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
A superb read spelling out in laymans terms ahow and why we are as a country in such and economic mess.
A must read,
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3 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The men who told you so., 4 Dec 2012
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This review is from: Going South: Why Britain will have a Third World Economy by 2014 (Paperback)
The authors are economists with a remarkable flair for explaining complex issues in a crystal clear but unpatronising style. They have co-written previously - in "Fantasy Island " the perceptive analysis foretold the double dip recession and the reasons for it. In this later book, we are led through the detail of the economic ravages of the Second World War, the demise of the Empire, and the rise of new economic powers in Asia, the Middle East and South America. We are taught a convincing lesson - Britain's posturing as a super-power is past. We can't afford, nor do we need, to spend billions on nuclear submarines, to send troops and aircraft into bases and battles all over the world - we must learn to live within our means, as a modest and modern European democracy, capable of keeping all its people employed, educated, fed and healthy, with the benefits of innovation and enterprise, as do our neighbours in the Low Countries and Scandinavia. This authoritative and forceful book should be on the shelves of everybody interested in our political and economic future, but it would be of particular value to the blimps who still hanker after an Imperial past.
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