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!

Arts and Entertainment
Keith from The Office ten years on

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Maisie Williams prepares to enter the House of Black and White as Arya Stark in Game of Thrones season five

tv
Arts and Entertainment
Albert Hammond Junior of The Strokes performs at the Natural History Museum on July 6, 2006 in London, England.

music
Arts and Entertainment
Howard Mollison, as played by Michael Gambon
tv review
Arts and Entertainment
Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush in The King's Speech

The best TV shows and films coming to the service

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

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Taylor Swift won Best International Solo Female (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Shining star: Maika Monroe, with Jake Weary, in ‘It Follows’
film review
Arts and Entertainment

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith arrives at the Brit Awards (Getty)

Brits 2015
Arts and Entertainment
Anne Boleyn's beheading in BBC Two's Wolf Hall

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Follow every rainbow: Julie Andrews in 'The Sound of Music'
film Elizabeth Von Trapp reveals why the musical is so timeless
Arts and Entertainment
Bytes, camera, action: Leehom Wang in ‘Blackhat’
film
Arts and Entertainment
The Libertines will headline this year's festival
music
Arts and Entertainment
Richard Dean Anderson in the original TV series, which ran for seven seasons from 1985-1992
tv
Arts and Entertainment
Muscling in: Noah Stewart and Julia Bullock in 'The Indian Queen'

opera
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman and David Tennant star in 'Broadchurch'

TVViewers predict what will happen to Miller and Hardy
Arts and Entertainment
Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright in season two of the series

Watch the new House of Cards series three trailer

TV
Arts and Entertainment
An extract from the sequel to Fight Club

books
Arts and Entertainment
David Tennant, Eve Myles and Olivia Colman in Broadchurch series two

TV Review
Arts and Entertainment
Old dogs are still learning in 'New Tricks'

TV
Arts and Entertainment
'Tonight we honour Hollywood’s best and whitest – sorry, brightest' - and other Neil Patrick Harris Oscars jokes

Oscars 2015It was the first time Barney has compered the Academy Awards

Arts and Entertainment
Patricia Arquette making her acceptance speech for winning Best Actress Award

Oscars 2015 From Meryl Streep whooping Patricia Arquette's equality speech to Chris Pine in tears

Arts and Entertainment

Oscars 2015 Mexican filmmaker uses speech to urge 'respect' for immigrants

Arts and Entertainment
Lloyd-Hughes takes the leading role as Ralph Whelan in Channel 4's epic new 10-part drama, Indian Summers

TV Review

The intrigue deepens as we delve further but don't expect any answers just yet
Arts and Entertainment
Jason Segal and Cameron Diaz star in Sex Tape

Razzies 2015 Golden Raspberry Awards 'honours' Cameron Diaz and Kirk Cameron

Latest stories from i100
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.

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003