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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 7 September 2014
'Made in Britain' is an entertaining and enlightening myth-busting analysis of the British economy, an ideal starting point for the non-specialist or enquiringly student , with its focus more or less exclusively on private sector activity. Evan Davis writes with a flowing, good humoured light touch. His central theme is that yes Britain is very much open for business. However, it has suffered and continues to suffer from being rather too dependent on the service sector, consumption rather than investment growth (hence the significant o- going balance of payments problem) and issues relating to regional imbalances, particularly concerning skills mismatches and labour immobility.

One of the most encouraging aspects of this book is the discussion around the general productivity, creatively and global reach of many British firms. Car building, tourism, brand creation, finance and top level engineering innovation are all sectors in which the UK excels. As a nation we are also a major destination for foreign Direct Investment, which not only creates jobs but leads to increased exports, expertise and the development of local suppler bases.

The problem is of course is that there are not enough success stories, nor are they spread widely enough for the benefits of growth to filter through to a significant proportion of the UK's population. Even so Davis is charmingly up-beat. Suggesting that the global as well as the national economy is in constant flux. Yesterday we made ships, today we make cars and sell financial services, tomorrow who knows? The point is to be competitive, enterprising and more inclined to save rather than consume.

For the budding economists, Mr Davis gives a number worthwhile insights that really aid understanding of the mechanisms behind trends in world trade and economic growth, better still he always illustrates his points with amusing or striking examples to sustain interest.

His first point is that trade is good. The theory of Comparative Advantage is the key point, here. Trade lead leads to competition and innovation, meaning that specialisation is a natural consequence. Specialisation means that some industrial sectors die away, others blossom. Second that trade leads to growth and economic growth leads to more trade. However, it doesn't matter whether a particular company is British 'owned' ( Public Ltd companies are owned by shareholders who could be based anywhere!),what matters is that company is producing goods or services in the UK creating jobs and incomes for UK citizens by selling to foreign markets or by reducing the inclination of UK citizens to buy imported goods.

A highly recommendable book, especially for the novice. I would have liked something on the role of government. If enterprise is so good, what should government do? Lower taxes?, cut government spending right back?, reduce regulation? In similar vein, it would have been interesting to learn Mr D's views on the EU and the Euro as either enablers or possibly more like, 'disablers' of growth ,enterprise and trade. These omissions aside, go buy- learn and be entertained!
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on 7 January 2014
What a fantastic book to read! It will open your mind about what Britain still has to offer the world and challenge your views on services v manufacturing. I personally work with British exporters and see a lot of what Evan Davis writes about put into practice every day. The British economy has changed and it keeps changing - will we embrace the change and feel proud of our achievements and excited about what's ahead? A clever, thought-provoking book that you'll go back to again and again.
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on 20 November 2011
Economics was dubbed "the dismal science" by Victorian historian Thomas Carlyle - reacting to the doom-laden population predictions of Thomas Malthus - but this entertainingly written and cleverly researched book is anything but dismal. It elicits a mood of optimism and potential when looking at the history of and prospects for the British economy. It is a well-argued antidote to the current economic gloom.

Evan Davis is a well known economist and British broadcaster who made his name with shows like Dragons Den but in writing Made in Britain he shows a deep and knowledgeable engagement with how British industry developed and the sort of businesses that are creating value today. His argument is that the economy is always in flux and the challenge is to get the right balance of manufacturing, services and the creation of intellectual property. He argues, and clearly shows, that those in love with nostalgic, sepia-toned notions of the sanctity of manufacturing are just as narrow minded as those who argue that we will end up us a purely service based nation. In the aftermath of the debt laden financial crash it is the balance that we must rediscover.

I missed all the BBC broadcasts which accompanied this publication but I can attest that the book stands alone as a good read and a thought provoking analysis. It is perhaps a bit of an indictment of the BBC that the series, only broadcast very recently is no longer available on the iPlayer or DVD. A change of BBC policy may be required for such genuinely valuable and timeless programmes.

Another well used phrase - this from JM Keynes - is that "practical men are slaves of some defunct economist." Mr Davis is far from defunct and what is so powerful about his book is the way he shows that many commonly held economic beliefs such as "imports bad - exports good" and "trade deficit are evil" need to be reassessed in the more nuanced world of the increasing global economy.

For those who want a more balanced view of the prospects of Britain and for those who just want a bit of cheering up Made in Britain is a first class read from a convincing and accomplished author.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 25 June 2011
This morning I heard on the Today Programme that Max Hastings has been slating the British as idle and useless compared with the Chinese. John Humphreys must have been itching to say, "That's a load of tosh and my colleague Evan Davis's book explains exactly why". Well, I can't be certain that John Humphreys has read the book but I have, and I will never be deceived by ignorant raving about Britain again. Reading it actually changed my opinion.

"Made in Britain" is an extraordinary combination - a serious book about economics which is entertaining, easy to read, easy to understand, balanced and impregnably sound in its judgements. The author is not just a journalist but a respected economist with a background at Oxford, Harvard, London Business School and the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

The book is unfortunately littered with typos. The author must have been furious with the BBC for screwing up the schedule so that it went to print before it had been properly edited. But, as he points out astutely in chapter 11, organisations protected from market forces with a licence to collect money, can become too much of a good thing.

This is pretty much a must-read for anyone interested in the state of Britain or worried about our future.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 September 2011
Britain, the doomsayers would have you believe, is sinking in a dead-end economy in which manufacturing is reduced to an insignificant rump, replaced by burger-flipping and call centres. The common complaint, here as in the US and, no doubt, Japan, is "We used to make stuff..."

In this well-balanced assessment of the reality of post-modern British industry, Evan Davis tries to cheer up the Eeyores, first of all showing that, despite conceptions to the contrary, our European neighbours France and Germany also don't manufacture that much any more, and that although Americans are in aggregate better off at least we don't have to work their hours. More importantly, what we do manufacture is pretty damn good; world leading, in fact, when we look at UK companies like GlaxoSmithKline, ARM Holdings and Brompton, but also in foreign-owned factories such as that of Nissan near Sunderland.

That's less than half the story, though, (in fact, less than a quarter) because the majority of British industry is based on services, and there we really are good. We just need to ensure we understand how to stay ahead of the game in that respect, as emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil move up the value chain, and there the government has a crucial role to play in ensuring it not only encourages the right behaviours but also in ensuring it does not stifle the success stories. For example, in imposing increasingly restrictive conditions on student visas we not only deny ourselves the revenues from tuition fees from newly affluent citizens of the rising economies, we also deny ourselves access to overseas talent. Davis uses the example of post 9/11 US policy to demonstrate the potential effects.

Davis's writing is very accessible, and he has written for non-specialists, being very sparing with economic terminology, although he does explain the concepts of gross value added and comparative advantage well. His treatment of the 1960s "I'm backing Britain" campaign is hilarious, and he also deals with objections to working conditions in overseas joint venture firms: the living quarters of Chinese workers in a British-Chinese suit factory in Shandong Province are certainly sparse, but beat anything described in Orwell's Down And Out In Paris And London. Particularly user friendly is his use of an analogy from Wolfe's The Bonfire Of The Vanities to explain how the finance industry profits from the "crumbs" of its transactions.

There are without doubt some oversights. Strangely, in dealing with the benefits of overseas talent he overlooks one of the UK's biggest contributions to the new economy, fibreoptic technology, developed in the 1960s in Harlow by Sir Charles Kao, an overseas-born graduate of UCL, an internationally renowned institution. There's also no mention of the British fashion industry, worth twice as much to GDP as manufacturing, and he references JK Rowling and Harry Potter but not the potential for the British film industry.

The book is also shot through with an inordinate amount of bad editing, with many forms of the verb "to be" totally lost, numerous stray prepositions, a couple or three sentences which can only be understood through deep analysis, and typos such as "excised" for "exercised" and "economy" for "economic".

Overall, though, this is a good book, worthwhile reading and perhaps for buying for anyone wishing we could go back to the golden age of steam trains, coal mines and blast furnaces.
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on 4 July 2015
Highly readable and blows the myth that Britain has gone to the dogs. If you want to see how this country has adapted to the new world order I would highly recommend this book.
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on 18 February 2013
brilliant, in depth analysis, good to have a varied opinion so was a good read would reccomend as a first read
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on 7 March 2014
I was expecting a book about world class British companies, but it was more about economics and it was a bit obvious, for instance If you want to survive then make higher value goods or services and it is not necessary to manufacture goods just be smarter in design, see Apple for instance.
I was expecting more from the book and was a bit disappointed the book was quite superficial.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 21 May 2012
Other reviewers have taken the time and care to review this book in greater depth than I and I don't intend to contradict any of that. All I would say is that I read this book virtually in one sitting on a Sunday and there can't be many books on economics of which you can say that. If you are familiar with Mr Davis on the TV you will find that his breezy yet deceptively incisive style is replicated here, making the book very readable and helps one make sense of the economic turmoil that is going on around us. I suppose, not being anything close to knowedgeable about economics, there may be some criticism that this book isn't as in depth as it might be but for me that is the point of it. It is for the general reader and in that it succeeds admirably.

Obviously it is not quite up to date as events in Greece etc have rather overtaken the news since the book was first published, but from a British perspective you can take some of the lessons you will read in here and transpose them onto the Eurozone "crisis" for example and it will suddenly make some sort of sense.

I can't praise this book highly enough.
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on 24 July 2014
Evan Davis leads the reader through an examination of the British Economy explaining economic concepts in an easy and accessible manner. Some really interesting examples making this one of the best books I've read on the subject. I'm proud to be British!
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