James Moore: Stuck in the slow lane

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The Independent Online

Outlook: France and Germany are out of recession. Good news, says Mandy, glib as ever. The business secretary, deputy PM and God's representative on earth, says different economies will show different patterns of behaviour. "But the key point is all these economies rely on each other; 55 to 56 per cent of our trade is with the rest of Europe. So when [they are] recovering that is good news for our manufacturers and our exports here."

Well yes, that is indeed the case. But the reason for the neighbours' success while we lag is that their economies have less consumer and corporate debt than ours and are far less reliant on the financial sector. France, and German in particular, have suffered some pain. But the upturn in these countries should be faster and smoother than Britain's. What is disturbing is how little thought has been given to addressing the UK's over reliance on a financial services industry which has barely even begun to reform itself and is showing disturbing signs of slipping back into the bad old habits that got us here in the first place.

The British have spent several years boasting about our economic boom and sneering at the neighbours as we've streaked ahead. Now we're stuck in the slow lane.