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Jérôme, you mention the bubbly nature of the UK economy, also oil/gas income. What additional leverage, if any, has been created by the UK staying out of the euro? Or, in other words, to what extent has ECB monetary policy deaded down the economy of the Eurozone recently?
I'm going to touch on another aspect of the UK-brilliant-economy vs Old-Europe-out-of-touch etc match. Britain's unemployment numbers are not necessarily as good as they look. For many years now the UK has "offloaded" the chronically unemployed towards Incapacity Benefit. It would appear that far more people of working age in Britain suffer from long-term sickness or disability than in the Eurozone. This study (pdf) from researchers at Sheffield Hallam University, estimates the diversion from unemployment to sickness benefit may be as high as 3.2% of the working-age population (August 2003). The numbers are concentrated in the former heavy-industrial areas. In the Welsh Valleys, for example, 24% (!) of men of working age are on Incapacity Benefit. (Let no one pretend the men of the Valleys are idle good-for-nothings, or afew will go into a fit of ancestral rage...) Some of these non-employed persons may be included in the ILO-definition unemployment statistics, but most are not.
The question is whether the UK is a shining example of full employment, or an imbalanced country where jobs and growth are concentrated in one region (South-East England), and the former areas of heavy industry and manufacturing have been pretty much abandoned.
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