The latest by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard is an excellent piece on the sham economics of Britain over the last 15 years and well worth repeating here in full.
German team damn UK economic 'miracle' as a sham By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, International Business Editor
Britain's economic resurgence over the last fifteen years has been driven by record levels of household debt and a public spending spree that cannot continue, according a German-led team of economists.
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In a damning new report "More Mirage than Miracle" published by the free-market think tank Policy Exchange, the analysts said Britain was relapsing into high-tax and high-regulation sclerosis just as the rest of Europe begins to shake itself out of statist lethargy.
The country's underlying slippage has been masked by a housing boom that creates a false sense of wealth and encourages people to over-spend by drawing cash from their homes.
The British are resorting to a Faustian Pact that leaves many of them with an ever greater debt burden.
"From 2001 to 2006, a total of £256bn in equity was extracted from UK property values in this way. Dependent as it is on rising house prices, housing equity withdrawl cannot continue to prop up our consumer spending at its current level," said the report.
The dramatic change in attitudes to debt has caused the UK savings rate to plummet from 8.3pc of disposable income fifteen years ago to around zero. Personal debt has risen by 137pc since June 1993 to £1,343bn, greater that annual GDP for the first time.
"Just as private households have been living beyond their means, so has the state. The expansion of the public sector artificially inflates GDP growth data: it cannot continue much longer.
"Judging by the fiscal deficit trend, the UK is now in worse fiscal shape than almost any other major Western country. In the event of an economic downturn, the UK now has little leeway for stimulus," it said. The report was mostly written by two German economists: Holger Schmieding, chief Europe economist for Bank of America, and Policy Exchange's chief economists Oliver Hartwich.
"We're two Germans who came to Britain believing its was a free-market haven and we're disturbed by what we've found. This is the year when the state sector in the UK as a share of GDP rises above the level in Germany. It's shocking," said Dr Hartwich. "The rest of Europe has been cutting taxes and pushing through reforms, and what has Britain done? The economy has in effect been been 'bailed out' by housing inflation and debt," he said.
The report cited a World Bank study showing that Britain earned top score as a place to do business in just one respect; "the ease of getting credit". It came 54th in the category of dealing with licences, a sign that the regulatory arteries are furring up.
Separately, Barclays said it was downgrading its forecast for the UK economy and now expects the Bank of England to cut rates a quarter point in Feburary and again in May, rather than remaining on hold deep into next year.
Barclays said the debt markets have not yet returned to normal following the August credit crunch in America and the Northern Rock debacle in Britain. Households and firms are likely to face a "pronounced rise in the effective borrowing rate".
"We now think domestic demand will slow markedly in the next few quarters," said the bank's UK economist George Johns. Britain's heavy reliance on the City will also take its toll. Barclays expects growth to fall from 3.1pc this year to 2.2pc in 2008.
Bank of America is forecasting four rate cuts to 4.75pc by the end of next year as the chickens come home to roost in Britain, with sterling dropping from £2.03 to around to £1.84 against the dollar.
In a sign of changing perceptions in Europe, the Spanish financial group Coface said Britain faces a "dangerous cocktail of a real estate bubble and household indebtedeness".
The group also put Spain on negative watch, warning that the country would soon follow the US and the UK into trouble as the property dominoes topple.
Britain's household debt levels are the highest of any major economy in Europe or North America, but with rates at 5.75pc it has ample room to ease monetary policy to cushion a hard-landing.
Those southern Euro-zone countries facing deflating property booms may not be so lucky. Their interest rates are now set in Frankfurt, largely to meet the quite different needs of Germany and Northern Europe.