By Peter Curwen (eds.)
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Additional resources for Understanding the UK Economy
In particular, high levels of demand tended to be associated with high levels of imports, the more so as the UK became increasingly unable to compete internationally with respect to her manufactured goods. Now a balance-of-payments (BoP) deficit can be dealt with in a number of different ways: 1. the domestic economy can be deflated (expenditure reducing) so that there is less demand to spill over into imports; 2. the price of imports can be raised, and that of exports lowered, via an alteration in the exchange rate (expenditure switching); 3.
The government may, for example, wish to see the exchange rate rise, but if the foreign exchange market wishes to see the exchange rate fall that may well prove to be the ultimate outcome. To sum up this brief discussion, the overall picture with respect to the UK is that it has a political system with enormous potential power to direct economic policy. The system could accordingly result in enormous swings in the direction of policy as each successive government seeks to undo wh at its predecessor has done, but this does not necessarily happen because many priorities are shared, and the extern al environment may not permit it.
In the early Thatcher years, this was seen as the task assigned to the money supply, but that has now altered insofar as control of the money supply is widely (but by no means universally) seen as a failure. Indeed, the government itself declared, in June 1989, that it no longer intended even to compile the money supply measure, known as M3, favoured during the early 1980s. For some time now, the govern- 13 ment has relied upon the interest rate as its primary means of regulating demand, a policy which, as is noted at many points in this text, has met with mixed success, although it may anyway be argued that there is no unanimity about the meaning of the term 'success'.