Friday, January 27, 2017

It's baaaack - the return of industrial policy!

Theresa May's ten pillar vision for Britain's industrial future signals the definitive return of industrial policy to the mainstream in developed economies. The symbolism is unmistakable. Nearly four decades after Ms Margaret Thatcher led the global movement to get governments out of business, another female British Prime Minister has signalled a reversal. 

Details may vary, but it cannot be missed that government is baaaack in the business of "picking winners". The green paper identifies life sciences, ultra-low emission vehicles, industrial digitalisation, nuclear and creative industries as potential priorities and has sought strategy documents to promote growth in these sectors. Dress it up as "sector deals" or "challenges" to industry, it cannot hide the fact that the ideological shift from generalised policies to industry specific ones constitutes a definite reversal.  

It is equally interesting that Ms May's policy turn coincides with a reversal of Reaganite policies across the Atlantic! The surprising thing about this round of historical cycles has been the short duration between the tides. 

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