Get Used to Political Turmoil Sapping Growth for a Decade; ECONOMIC ANALYSIS

The Evening Standard (London, England), April 11, 2019 | Go to article overview

Get Used to Political Turmoil Sapping Growth for a Decade; ECONOMIC ANALYSIS


Byline: Russell Lynch

WHEN the television cameras inevitably catch up with Brenda from Bristol later this year, she's going to be apoplectic.

With the bookies making a general election virtually an even-money shot in 2019, the sentiments of the West Country's favourite political commentator, right, ("you're joking not another one?") will doubtless be echoed nationwide.

If and when Theresa May's Government does collapse, the UK could face its third national poll in four years, not including the 2016 referendum itself. That's getting on towards banana republic status.

Within Whitehall the political instability is still more acute, with May already holding the record for ministerial resignations since forming her minority Government less than two years ago. So far there have been 41 departures, including 10 of Cabinet rank. Remember "strong and stable"? The Bank of England has estimated Brexit uncertainty has knocked around three percentage points off UK growth since June 2016; but there's clearly also an issue of the wider damage being done by political instability in general. The area's been a rich field of study for researchers.

The International Monetary Fund's Ari Aisen and Francisco Jose Veiga looked into the issue in a working paper in 2011, using a dataset of 169 countries from 1960 to 2004.

They looked at factors like cabinet changes the number of times in a year a new leader is named or half the cabinet is replaced as a proxy for political instability.

They found "strikingly conclusive" results that instability brings down average GDP per head rates significantly, by 2.4 percentage points.

In a climate where our own economic relationships are still in a state of embarrassing and damaging economic flux, it's still worth pointing out Aisen and Veiga's conclusions that the "greater uncertainty regarding future economic policy. …

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