This does not follow

I’m always, as you know, interested in the misuse of statistics:

The last time the United Kingdom exported more goods than it imported was 1983. For most years until 1997, its trade surplus in services more than compensated for its deficit in goods, but since that year the value of the deficit in goods has risen eight times, while the surplus in services has only doubled, which has made the UK a net importer overall for the past 15 years, with its share of world trade declining by 25%.

It’s that last little part. Sure, we’ve gone from surplus to deficit. But trade volume has increased. And without looking at the figures I’m pretty sure that trade as a percentage of GDP has risen too. It’s not that the UK’s trade performance has been so weedy that our portion of world trade has declined. It’s that there’s been this rather large growth in the trade of other countries meaning that, even as absolute trade increases our portion of trade declines.

You know, that billions of people getting richer in the Third World by people buying the things that they make thing?

7 comments on “This does not follow

  1. Come talk to the lefties here in Liverpool Tim. Billions of people getting richer you say, just because the raw figures show them to be. My lefty neighbours will tell you directly that they ‘don’t recognise’ those figures.

  2. Ah, the romanticisation of factory jobs by effete middle class Guardianistas who would never dream of working in a factory themselves.

  3. Ironman – Liverpool is a bloody nightmare to navigate and find parking in, but assuming Tim has a more reliable satnav than me, and that Diadora-tracksuit-wearing scallies don’t seize him, he’d probably find the Merseyside Marxians inclined towards the belief that “capitalism is where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer… so OF COURSE the black babies in Africa need the white lefties of CAFOD more than ever… especially with all this global warming going on!”

    Then they’d probably harangue him about a public enquiry intp why Brookside was cancelled

  4. The fallacy that because manufacturing has declined, that decline will continue forever until there’s none left.

    Also, the paper of the environmentalist, industry-hating nuts pining for the days of heavy industry.

  5. Could some clever person work out how much our manufacturing exports would have had to increase by to maintain our share of world trade?

  6. Rob – yes, they think the decline of coal mining under Mrs Thatcher’s government was a terrible social injustice. But also that we should close down fossil fuel power plants and generate our electricity from wind turbines and unicorn farts. And new fossil fuel energy sources like shale gas are the work of the Devil.

  7. “The fallacy that because manufacturing has declined, that decline will continue forever until there’s none left.”

    I thought the fallacy was that it declined at all?

    “Could some clever person work out how much our manufacturing exports would have had to increase by to maintain our share of world trade?”

    They can’t rise by much anyway, we already export over 80% of manufacturing.

    The bottom line is that every phone China makes is designed in Cambridge, so as one business increases so will the other.

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