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02.05.2008
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The Economy of Great Britain
Little more than a century ago, Britain was 'the workshop of the world'. It had as many merchant ships as the rest of the world put together and it led the world in most manufacturing industries. This did not last long. By 1885 one analysis reported, "We have come to occupy a position In which we are no longer progressing, but even falling . We find other nations able to compete with us to such an extent as we have never before experienced." Early in the twentieth century Britain was overtaken economically by the United States and Germany. After two world. wars and the rapid loss of its empire, Britain found it increasingly difficult to maintain its position even in Europe.
Britain struggled to find a balance between government intervention in the economy and an almost completely free-market economy such as existed in the United States. Neither system seemed to fit Britain's needs. The former seemed compromised between two different objectives: planned economic prosperity and the means of ensuring full employment, while the latter promised greater economic prosperity at the cost of poverty and unemployment for the less able in society. Neither Labour nor the ervatives doubted the need to find a system that suited Britain's needs, but neither seemed able to break from the consensus based on Keynesian economics .
People seemed complacent about Britain's decline, reluctant to make the painful adjustments that might be necessary to reverse it. Prosperity Increased during the late 1950s and in the 1960s, diverting attention from Britain's decline relative to its main competitors. In 1973" the ervative Prime Minister Edward Heath warned, "The alternative to expansion is not, as some occasionally seem to suppose, an England of quiet market towns



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