The UK Economy – a story in stats

By March 28, 2014Business

Yesterday I was invited to the Royal Foundation of St Katharine to speak to the Buxton Leadership Programme. I had a pretty scary brief, which was to explain the UK Economy to them. I did so by way of these statistics, some of which you’ll have seen before:

  • Foodbank use has increased by 400% in two years and foodbanks are set to feed a million people this year (Trussell Trust)
  • 21% of 18-24 year olds are unemployed (New Economics Foundation/ONS)
  • In the last 3 years, 9 of the 10 biggest payday lenders in the UK have doubled their turnover, with one of them recording a 32-fold increase in profits since the start of the recession (Guardian)
  • Britain’s 5 richest families are worth as much as the poorest 20% of the UK population (£28bn) and the UK’s wealthiest 0.1 per cent have seen their income grow nearly four times faster than the least well-off 90 per cent of the population (Oxfam)
  • The rich also get richer through inherited wealth, e.g., if an economy grows at 1% but investment returns are 5%, those who can afford to invest can reinvest most of their return. “The cumulative dynamics of wealth accumulation will automatically give rise to an extremely high concentration of wealth, with half of the capital owned by the top 1%, while the bottom half end up with no savings” (Thomas Piketty)
  • In the UK, banks are not (yet) required to hold a minimum cash reserve against their liabilities but are estimated to hold around 3%. In the US, where reserve requirements are regulated, the ratio ranges from 3 to 10%, depending on the total size of holdings (Wikipedia)
  • Less than 5% of bank balance sheets consist of loans to non-financial institutions (John Kay)
  • High Frequency Trading, whereby computers use algorithms to make automatic trades to take advantage of infinitesimal changes in price, accounted for ‘just’ 53% of stock-market trading volume in 2010 (Wall Street Journal)
  • A $300 million, 3,741 mile underwater cable is currently being laid between London and New York in order to speed up financial transactions by 6 milliseconds, because each millisecond saved is estimated to boost a hedge fund’s annual bottom line by $100 million (The Telegraph)
  • Around 51% of Conservative Party donations come from the financial services industry – joining the Leader’s Group costs £50,000 and gets you direct access to David Cameron and senior colleagues at dinners, post-PMQ lunches, drinks receptions, election result events and campaign launches (Bureau of Investigative Journalism/Conservative Party website)
  •  Under New Labour the number of special advisers (Spads) in Whitehall doubled, from 38 under John Major to 81 under Tony Blair. Since 1997 there have been over 70 Spads working in government in any one year, which is at least 3 per Cabinet Minister (UCL) – Nick Clegg has 14
  • In the USA, when New Jersey passed a tax increase on incomes exceeding $500,000 at most 70 tax filers earning more than this threshold left the state (Washington Post)
  • ‘Fight or Flight’ is in fact a male response to stress. Female physiology generates behaviour dubbed ‘tend and befriend’ (Taylor, Klein, Lewis, Gruenewald, Gurung & Updegraff)
  • In response to consumer demand, Newbury, Windermere, Kidderminster, Aylesbury, Brentwood and Wakefield now have fish pedicure salons but no fishmonger (Telegraph)
  • Every £1 spent with a local supplier is worth £1.76 to the local economy, but only 36p if it is spent in a national chain (New Economics Foundation)
  • In 1955, the year after rationing ended, Sainsbury’s stocked 700 products. Now, it stocks over 30,000 (The Telegraph)
  • In the famous jam experiment, some shoppers were offered 24 jams to try, others just 6. Both were given coupons for a purchase. Those given the larger selection seemed confused by the array of options, and only 3% of them bought jam. Of those who were given a choice of just 6, 30% made a purchase. (Sheena Iyengar)
  • In 1998, the Fair Trade market in the UK was worth £17million annually. Largely thanks to strong support from Christians, by 2010 the market was worth £1billion. Now, the UK coffee market is about 15% Fair Trade, and 1 in 3 bananas sold is Fair Trade (Traidcraft)
  • Christians are estimated to control $10 trillion around the world. At least 6% of the world’s investment capital is reckoned to be in the hands of religious bodies. In England, the Church Commissioners alone have an asset portfolio of £5.5bn, while collectively Anglican PCCs spend over £800m a year. According to the Census, every other person you meet in the street considers themselves a Christian. Each Sunday, 1 million people go to a Church of England church, and 1 in 4 primary schools are run by the Church of England, teaching 1 million children each year. There are still 26 Bishops in the House of Lords, and over 25,000 Church of England clergy active in their local communities (CofE stats).

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