Leading Article: We have never had it so good, thanks to the new British economic miracle

"AN END to boom and bust." That is a catch-phrase that the Prime Minister and the Chancellor repeat with such monotonous regularity that wags in the Palace of Westminster now run books on how often the slogan will turn up in their speeches.

It is, in truth, a touch hubristic and it invites mild ridicule, sounding a little like a promise to abolish the trade cycle, something that human wit, Marx and Keynes failed to deliver. Perhaps Mr Brown should know better, having had, in opposition, so much fun at the expense of the chancellor at the time, Nigel Lawson, who made a similar boast in 1988 - that the United Kingdom had experienced an "economic miracle", a feat that was supposed to be compared with the original German Wirtschaftswunder of the 1950s. Well, we know what happened to Mr Lawson. The question is whether Mr Brown's slogan will join Mr Lawson's miracle, Harold Wilson's "white heat of technology" and Harold Macmillan's "never had it so good" as a boast too far.

This is a good time to wonder. Transatlantic stock markets are irrationally exuberant and in the upswing of the longest bull market this century. Internet shares are running at levels that the sober-minded tell us are unprecedented and unsustainable. The housing market is still booming and is predicted to spread beyond its "hot spots". In some parts of the country and in some sectors labour shortages are already developing (try hiring a builder or a software engineer). Are we at the end of an impressive economic run or merely at, say, the mid-stage of a truly historic and long upswing?

We may well see a correction in the stock market, although, of course, no one is predicting when. There are reasons to believe that such a correction could be "managed", as were the previous crash in biotechnology stocks and successive crises in the markets and currencies of Mexico, the "tiger economies" of east Asia and Russia. We are, in other words, still standing after all that. Inflation is, as Baroness Thatcher always tried to remind us, nothing to be complacent about. But, as the slew of economic statistics published last week indicated, there is every reason to think that it remains under control, even as unemployment heads down towards less than one million.

What lies behind this remarkable economic turn-around? In the first place, growth is underpinned by freer and freer movement of capital - or globalisation - just as the long postwar boom was fuelled by the dismantling of the pre-war and wartime apparatus of tariff barriers and other obstacles to free trade. It can be bad news for us as workers if we are undercut by competition from abroad, but it is good news for us as shoppers. Add to this a more discriminating approach in markets from new cars to designer slacks to ready-made pizzas, and we have the most powerful combination of downward forces on prices since the 1930s.

Second, the new technologies. It is perhaps comforting to reflect that another long turn-of-the-century boom, that from 1896 to 1913, was also accompanied by breathtaking innovations: the telephone, the assembly line, the internal combustion engine. Today, we are still comprehending the enormous potential of the Internet, mobile telephony (and the convergence of these) and the productivity gains that will follow.

No more boom and bust? Maybe not. But the evidence is all around us that we are indeed enjoying a white-hot technological revolution amounting to something approaching an economic miracle. We can at least be sure that we - most of us - have never had it so good. Enjoy!

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

books
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Peter Capaldi and Chris Addison star in political comedy The Thick of IT

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Judy Murray said she

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014

edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Jeremy Paxman has admitted he is a 'one-nation Tory' and complained that Newsnight is made by idealistic '13-year-olds' who foolishly think they can 'change the world'.

Edinburgh
Arts and Entertainment
Seoul singer G-Dragon could lead the invasion as South Korea has its sights set on Western markets
music
Arts and Entertainment
Gary Lineker at the UK Premiere of 'The Hunger Games: Catching Fire'
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Bale as Batman in a scene from
film
Arts and Entertainment
Johhny Cash in 1969
musicDyess Colony, where singer grew up in Depression-era Arkansas, opens to the public
Arts and Entertainment
Army dreamers: Randy Couture, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Great British Bake Off 2014 contestants
tvReview: It's not going to set the comedy world alight but it's a gentle evening watch
Arts and Entertainment
Umar Ahmed and Kiran Sonia Sawar in ‘My Name Is...’
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
This year's Big Brother champion Helen Wood
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Full company in Ustinov's Studio's Bad Jews
Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Harari Guido photographed Kate Bush over the course of 11 years
Music
Arts and Entertainment
Reviews have not been good for Jonathan Liebesman’s take on the much loved eighties cartoon
Film

A The film has amassed an estimated $28.7 million in its opening weekend

Arts and Entertainment
Untwitterably yours: Singer Morrissey has said he doesn't have a twitter account
Music

A statement was published on his fansite, True To You, following release of new album

Arts and Entertainment
Full throttle: Philip Seymour Hoffman and John Turturro in God's Pocket
film
Arts and Entertainment
Kylie Minogue is expected to return to Neighbours for thirtieth anniversary special
tv
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

    A descent into madness in America's heartlands

    David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
    BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

    BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

    Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
    Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

    Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

    Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

    But could his predictions of war do the same?
    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

    Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

    Young at hort

    Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

    Beyond a joke

    Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

    Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

    A wild night out

    Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

    Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

    It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
    Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

    Besiktas vs Arsenal

    Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

    As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

    Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

    The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

    But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

    Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

    Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment