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.