Disparaging comparisons are often made between economic growth in the US and the Eurozone. On the face of it, the figures don’t look pretty. Official projections for 2002 and the next two years are: US, 2.3 per cent, 2.6 per cent and 3.6 per cent; Eurozone, 0.8 per cent, 1.8 per cent and 2.7 per cent. It looks like an easy win for the US. But the figures do not reflect the fact that the US population is growing by more than 1 per cent a year, while Europe’s is static (falling in Italy and Spain). So output per person is actually rising faster in Europe.
Shadow chancellor Michael Howard accuses Gordon Brown of getting his numbers wrong, but he should keep a sharper eye on his own pocket calculator. Howard claimed recently that Labour added to British industry’s burdens by introducing 4,500 new statutory instruments last year, which he reckons to be one every 26 seconds of every working day. There are 28,800 seconds in an eight-hour day, so there is time to bring in over 1,100 a day and the whole lot could be imposed in less than a week. Either Howard has an odd idea of a working week or he can’t tell a second from a minute. Harvey Cole