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In answering the above question, I shall address myself first to examining manufacturing exports and the British position, followed by a word on the Imperial Preference which hindered British trade flows with the rest of the world. I shall go on to talk more generally about whether there has been a decline in the aggregate economy (essentially exploring the pessimistic implied in the title). Further, I shall argue that the British economy has performed well against some serious cultural and structural constraints and should not be subjected to unduly negative analysis.

I shall look finally, and briefly at the performance of the service sector with regard to its contribution to, and correlation with, the aggregate and
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In the USA the figures for comparative labour productivity show that whilst the gap in comparative output has declined in manufacturing (UK/US ratio fell from 1/2.04 to 1/1.77 over the same period), aggregate output has improved relatively, and, indeed, overtaken (1/0.86 increased to 1/1.32 by 1989) . Thirdly, in addition to drawing this distinction, Broadberry notes that labour productivity is not the only factor affecting competitiveness on world markets; in fact those countries with a high productivity of labour have not necessarily enjoyed any such comparative advantage.


The breakdown of global trade after the WWI due to protectionist policies and the Great Depression of the 1930s provoked the British into relying on their Empire links to support their ailing export industries. Between 1907 and 1951, the proportion of British exports moving along Empire trading routes had increased from 32.2% to 55% . This type of quasi-self reliance had mixed consequences; in the
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