The Global Financial Crisis in 2008 saw ripples through the global economy that seem to have mostly recovered. Despite political noise, we have had relatively strong economic stability and growth, which has stayed above 3pc since 2010. Both the US and China have pursued agendas of big, bold growth and have both invested heavily in the driver for productivity. The UK now needs to learn from these two powerhouses, its time we leaned into Brexit, increasing investment and building inclusive capitalism.
Although there are underlying issues within the global economy, including levels of global debts, which has caused the fear of a global “snapback” towards the days of the GFC. Whether we are approaching the next market tipping point is by definition unknown. However, thanks largely to our central banks, our commercial banks are much safer than they once were. Many institutions can now take actions to prevent a re-run of the last crisis and technology is critical to this.
Our unique opportunity is the UK’s low productivity, which is 30pc behind major competitors. It is time for the UK to step up to this challenge and the good news is that productivity challenge is much simpler to meet than many other economic challenges. It is about investing more: in skills and training, research and development, modern production methods, and infrastructure. We can’t repeat previous mistakes, where great British inventions now form the basis of hugely successful US and Chinese enterprises. Today, of the world’s largest 20 tech firms, 11 are American and nine are Chinese. None are British. It is time for this to change.
The UK already has many of the components for getting technology correct. We are powerfully over-represented in the world’s top 50 universities. In energy we are making amazing progress. In life sciences we have the uniquely data-rich asset that is the NHS. Data is the new oil and, used wisely, genomics can help build a 21st-century NHS.
Great data can also be the springboard for globally leading approaches to housing, independent living and better care for populations that are ageing. Silicon Valley and the iPhone are, in part, huge economic successes because of earlier innovation by US government agencies and universities; our NHS and universities could be equally catalytic.
The UK has the tools ready for success and there is a passion that has been ignited within our communities, as businesses are established at a record rate.
The key is more purposeful investment at a significantly increased scale, a stepping up from the economic muddle-through of the last decade.
Brexit presents us with an opportunity to look at ourselves, examine exactly what it is we do best and how it can be improved. This is an opportunity for real and meaningful investment and governments must be willing to take risks and improve outcomes in a modern-day Britain.