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Saturday, September 3, 2011

How the UK/US neo-liberal model of capitalism compares with others

How the UK/US neo-liberal model of capitalism compares with 

others


by Richard Exell     
September 3, 2011 at 5:06 pm

One of the strong arguments put forward by neo-liberals is that deregulated market economies may not be fair but they bring home the bacon: if we learn to stop worrying about inequality, we will be happy to accept policies and greater prosperity.

The English-speaking countries have gone furthest in doing this, powering faster growth – the ‘Anglo-Saxon model’.
Yesterday, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics brought out the latest set of their wonderful series of international data.

I was looking at their table for GDP per capita, by country.

This has figures for 1960 and 2010, so we can see how each country has performed over a long period and whether the English-speaking countries stand out.

GDP per capita, 1960 and 2010, converted to U.S. dollars using 2010 PPPs, percentage increase

Country
1960
2010
Increase (%)
S Korea
1,510
29,184
1,733
Singapore
4,331
58,240
1,145
Japan
5,938
33,612
366
Norway
14,960
55,938
174
Austria
11,339
39,928
152
Belgium
11,441
37,411
127
Italy
10,320
32,997
120
France
11,062
34,168
109
Netherlands
13,850
41,512
100
Germany
13,003
38,021
92
Sweden
13,807
39,407
85
Denmark
14,084
38,778
75
Canada
14,436
39,104
71
USA
17,368
46,844
70
Australia
14,893
39,497
65
UK
13,610
35,621
62

Now, it’s important not to over-interpret this table. For one thing, the BLS table doesn’t include a figure for Ireland in 1960, and if they were included Irish growth would almost certainly be pretty impressive.

More importantly, this table shows how less rich countries have caught up with the countries that were rich in 1960. That’s especially true of the Asian countries, but it’s also true to a lesser extent for the European and North American countries.

But that isn’t the point. The neo-liberal line has been that the superior performance of the Anglo-Saxon model is blindingly obvious and only those of us with left-wing blinkers can’t see it.

And it simply isn’t so – countries we’re taught to sneer at, like Belgium and Italy, have had far superior growth over the long run, as well as the Scandinavian countries and Germany, which we’re used to seeing doing better than us.

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