UK fact of the day

by on February 14, 2013 at 3:53 pm in Uncategorized | Permalink

…the UK exports more to tiny troubled Ireland than to all the Brics put together.

Here is more, sad throughout.  Near the end, this insight pops up:

The explanation seems to be that Britain makes stuff people don’t much want…

Addendum: The fact doesn’t seem to be true, not since 2010, for instance see here.

farmer February 14, 2013 at 4:02 pm

this doesn’t even make sense. Northern Ireland (or Norn Irn as it’s unofficially known) *is* the UK. This reads like “America exports more to Kansas than to xyz”.

England trading w/ NI is not “exporting” from beyond the UK

farmer February 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

opps, sorry. Misreading on my part.

Millian February 14, 2013 at 4:07 pm

It is more like, “America exports more to Mexico than to xyz”. That claim is not invalidated by the existence of a sub-national entity called “abc Mexico”. Similarly, the existence of “abc Ireland” within the UK does not affect this article’s claim.

Of course, it helps that the UK and Ireland have free trade and a common regulatory system, a common language, mutual large expatriate populations, and a land border.

Bender Bending Rodriguez February 14, 2013 at 4:03 pm

Sheesh! What’s wrong with lasagna made with horse meat?

Stan February 14, 2013 at 4:14 pm
Ashok Rao February 14, 2013 at 4:23 pm

Canada’s population is more than 5x Ireland’s – the export per capita (in the importing country) as a ratio to the export per capita to the BRIC-world is far lower for the UK vis-a-vis Ireland than the US to Canada.

Beans February 14, 2013 at 4:24 pm

Those export numbers are inflated due to things like cross-border firm production with the movement of inputs back and forth.

Rahul2 February 15, 2013 at 8:42 am

+1 for Beans. I’m guessing the picture will look radically different if we calculate adjust exports sales for % of value add.

celestus February 14, 2013 at 5:01 pm

I blame Napoleon. Historically, Britain has kind of depended on being self sufficient.

Millian February 14, 2013 at 5:10 pm

Umm, no. It has been a major trading power since year dot – certainly, post-Napoleon.

Ashok Rao February 15, 2013 at 3:03 am

Right – if you call having an empire of slaves “self-sufficient”, sure.

Major February 14, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Top British export: Downton Abbey

Thor February 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm


Jaggleby February 14, 2013 at 5:11 pm

Of physical things, more could be made, but the UK is a major exporter of service and culture. Or via London it is, at any rate…

BenSix February 14, 2013 at 5:43 pm

Piers Morgan. Simon Cowell. One Direction.

God, I am so depressed…

Posh Spice February 15, 2013 at 6:39 pm

I’ll tell you what I want, what I really really want.

Chris February 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm

Britain has long been a major exporter of people. And will continue to be so, by the look of this…

UKGB February 14, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Tyler, could you correct this?

It hasn’t been true for three years now: I appreciate you don’t have to do the fact checking, but it is one of those memes that takes a while to die….. It has died now!

prior_approval February 15, 2013 at 12:05 am

The (apparently) British commenter is almost stereotypically polite – ‘I appreciate you don’t have to do the fact checking’.

Hoover February 15, 2013 at 7:16 am

Yes, he should have been rude.

mark February 14, 2013 at 5:47 pm

There was a story in the Economist along these lines in the past week or two also. What struck me is that sterling has fallen 25% in recent years and yet exports are still not growing. It is sad. Not only in what it says about Britain but it reminds me again that economic theory and the real world are often not aligned. Worth remembering when people talk about sovereign currency and the Euro straitjacket. Devaluation is not the elixir people think it is.

UKGB February 14, 2013 at 5:50 pm

This handy graphic may help you
RIC alone without Brazil adds up to £15.2bn, Ireland £14bn. BRazil probably takes it up to 17bn

There is also a major difficulty that major exports like Airbus wings that end up being exported ex-EU are “booked” as exports to Germany or France, which then does the complete plane to China etc. So the performance is probably better still – think of how that £34bn Nuclear parts issue probably passes through Areva etc to other countries.

It is still far worse than it should be, agreed; but the “Fact of the Day” is actually a fiction.

prior_approval February 15, 2013 at 12:08 am

Well, (apparently) British understatement only goes so far before needing to turn to facts – ‘the “Fact of the Day” is actually a fiction’

So, anybody betting how long it will be before this inaccurate post will be removed, much like the chart one, so as to not foster discussion on the basis of false information?

Yeah, I’m not holding my breath either.

Brian Donohue February 15, 2013 at 9:04 am

Dude, you crack me up.

Case #1: Erroneous post is removed for fear of contributing to misinformation in the blogosphere.

Conclusion: Dark hints about Director of Mercatus Center’s evil machinations in removing the post.

Case #2: Out-of-date post amended to provide link with updated information based on commenter feedback.

Conclusion: Dark hints about Director of Mercatus Center’s evil machinations in not removing the post.

I’m picturing a flow chart inside your head- every conceivable action funnels into same conclusion.

Dismalist February 14, 2013 at 8:39 pm

A nonsensical post, as many up-thread have realized. I guess nobody wants Brit stuff except those who buy it.

Dismalist, the Trade Guy, this week.

JoeDog February 14, 2013 at 8:42 pm

My favorites shirts are Britain’s Sunspel. Thanks to the wonders of the Internets I can import them myself….

mulp February 14, 2013 at 9:38 pm

What?? Don’t bankers make things??

Britain is the global banker, taking over from the US because Obama is preventing US banks from taking risks with depositor and US taxpayer money and requiring them to have actual capital at risk.

So, isn’t Britain exporting the most valuable thing in the entire economy – credit?

The Anti-Gnostic February 14, 2013 at 11:06 pm

So, isn’t Britain exporting the most valuable thing in the entire economy – credit?

Depends on the debtors.

Richard W February 14, 2013 at 11:09 pm

World trade is not as globalised as many people believe. Trade all over the world is mostly geographically local. Switzerland is one of the most successful exporters in the world. Their exports to China, Russia and all of Latin America combined only account for 8.3% of their total exports.

Marian Kechlibar February 15, 2013 at 3:38 am

Swiss products are very expensive, and it makes sense that the target markets in China, Russia and Latin America are rather small. Unless showing off, you do not HAVE to have a Swiss watch; a cheaper replica will do.

Statspotting February 15, 2013 at 12:16 am

Here is another anomaly on UK that we spotted:

UKGB February 15, 2013 at 2:24 am

You deserve huge praise for the correction, and the bigger point stands: the UK is an outlier in terms of how little its trade performance has responded to a huge fall in the currency. Ben Broadbent of the MPC delivered a good speech about how tight credit may have hindered reorganisation – the UK also has a bizarrely low level of insolvencies (what we are calling zombies) and the policy answer is not easy.

Though I would love to see how the facts would change by ultimate buyer.

Current February 15, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I’m a Brit ex-pat myself.

I think this issue is people. In the past many clever people have gone into finance and there has been a lot of service export from that sector. But, those people can’t move straight into other areas. Manufacturing still depends largely on the people and businesses it had before the recession. The currency devaluation helps, but if inputs are imported (which they often are) then it’s organizations and people that make the big difference.

I expect that in time things will come back into balance. Trade balances are normally much less problematic than people make them out to be.

dearieme February 15, 2013 at 5:58 am

Isn’t it time that the US permitted the import of haggis? That’d change things.

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