It was good to see the Prime Minister talking the economy up, and some evidence of briefing in the press to point out that UK manufacturing is growing again. There is a recovery underway, and that is most welcome.
Worldwide the news is considerably better than it is in the West. In Asia and parts of Latin America they are already having to put up interest rates to try to slow things down to control inflation, so fast has the growth and recovery been. Indeed, the Credit Crunch slump was largely a phenomenon of the EU and the USA. Monetary and budgetary policies were better conducted in much of the emerging world than it was in the advanced world, with better results. The factories of the East still rule the roost in many export markets.
The world exconomy as a whole expanded at more than 4% last year and may do so again this year. The digital revolution continues apace, bringing many more people into the world of the web, social networking and rapid communication. The internet allows enterprising people in China, India and similar countries to start up a business with relatively little capital, and to gain immediate access to the worldwide market. Millions are being lifted out of poverty by enterprise capitalism operating ever more widely throughout the developing world. The web itself is something of leveller for business as well as for governments. It can help bring the prices of services down, and strengthens worldwide competition in many markets.
The success of the private sector, of individual and family enterprise and access to the global market in providing opportunity to the jobless and higher living standards to the badly off is obvious to anyone who visits cities like Mumbai and Shanghai. It is all happening so quickly. The global market also means that countries which penalise enterprise, saving and effort too much can be shunned equally quickly in the rush to locate and grow in the more tolerant jurisdictions.
We have three worlds. The advanced world, in danger of resting on past laurels; the emerging world, growing quickly and agressively; and the opt out countries like North Korea who choose autocratic economic systems to match their stifling political systems, and who confine their people to loss of liberty and an absence of prosperity.
The West needs to understand the dynamics of this rapdily changing world. The Prime Minister was wise to highlight enterprise and opportunity, the chance to set up a business and to swap work for enforced lesiure yesterday. Ministers need to ensure the tax and regulatory regimes they set reinforces the fine words. The EU needs to switch from bail out to work out to sort out its problems, and needs to roll back some of the big government that gets in the way of prosperity.