Tuesday, October 30, 2007

The Local Economy

The picture is of a poster outside building works on the Engineering building adjacent to the Victoria Building. "Shouldn't the region's health be in as good a shape as the region's economy?" goes the slogan. (The smoker on the right is advertising lung cancer research at the university.) I'm not clear that the region's economy is in such great shape, but it raises the interesting question of what exactly does it mean to have a strong regional economy? It is wrong to suppose that it is caused by money being spent locally being used to help local businesses. Due to the high rates of tax, there is not much local circulation of money. A better guess is that a strong regional economy is one that attracts companies to build head offices there, and also major public-sector organisations. These big corporate offices provide the sort of high-quality jobs that enable a city to gain a good place on the league tables. Talking of which...

here is a recent league table made by an environmental outfit called Forum for the Future, which concludes Liverpool performs poorly environmentally. This is misleading, and some of the comments that have been submitted to their web site explain why. The league table uses affluence and educational achievement of local people as one indicator of "sustainability", and since Liverpool is not very affluent, it loses out, for no good reason. What this and similar league tables ignore, is that Liverpool is very competitive as a place to live --- if you nevertheless happen to be affluent and well-educated! Furthermore, I guess I'd rather be poor in Liverpool, than be poor in Richmond, or Knightsbridge.

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