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Monday, January 26, 2009 11:03 PM

Return Of The Three-Day Work Week

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In the UK, government sources say shorter hours would be preferable to mass unemployment: Britain is facing return of three-day week

The prospect of the three-day week returned to haunt Britain yesterday as it emerged that ministers are considering paying firms to cut hours in order to survive the recession.

Tens of thousands of businesses are already planning to scale back working hours this year in an effort to stay afloat. But as the country comes to terms with the reality of a recession, it emerged that the Government is looking at compensating employees, through their firms – thereby drawing comparisons with the shutdowns of the 1970s.

While the move would safeguard jobs, it would mean that the financial crisis is on a much larger scale, further undermining confidence in the economy with the suggestion of Britain grinding to a halt.

Major firms such as JCB have already downed tools for one day a week and are considering moving to a three-day week, with state help, if the recession gets worse. The firm's chief executive, Matthew Taylor, said that he is pressing Lord Mandelson, the Secretary of State for Business, to introduce compensation for workers if their hours are reduced.
Taylor wants everyone to work three days and the government pay for the extra two. Is this supposed to be a viable plan?

‘Soviet’ Britain swells amid the recession

The Times online is reporting ‘Soviet’ Britain swells amid the recession.
PARTS of the United Kingdom have become so heavily dependent on government spending that the private sector is generating less than a third of the regional economy, a new analysis has found.

The study of “Soviet Britain” has found the government’s share of output and expenditure has now surged to more than 60% in some areas of England and over 70% elsewhere.

Experts believe the recession will tighten the state’s grip still further as benefit handouts soar and Labour directs public sector organisations to create jobs to soak up unemployment.

In the northeast of England the state is expected to be responsible for 66.4% of the economy this year, up from 58.7% when a similar study was carried out four years ago. When Labour came to power, the figure was 53.8%.

Across the whole of the UK, 49% of the economy will consist of state spending, while in Wales, the figure will be 71.6% – up from 59% in 2004-5. Nowhere in mainland Britain, however, comes close to Northern Ireland, where the state is responsible for 77.6% of spending, despite the supposed resurgence of the economy after the end of the Troubles.

Even in southern England, the government’s share of spending is growing relentlessly. In the southeast, it has gone up from 33% to 36% of the economy in four years.

The state now looms far larger in many parts of Britain than it did in former Soviet satellite states such as Hungary and Slovakia as they emerged from communism in the 1990s, when state spending accounted for about 60% of their economies.

“It’s not that the public sector in the northeast is too big, it is that the private sector is too small,” said Malcolm Page, deputy chief executive of One North East. “The decline of traditional industries in the past means we need to establish more big private-sector companies in the region.”
The government's share of spending is about 50%. And to top it off , JCB wants it to increase. When does the 3 day week start here?

Mike "Mish" Shedlock
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