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How ill is the UK economy? What are the challenges for economic policy? These questions seem to me to be far more urgent than before any general election since 1979, when Margaret Thatcher came to power … The conclusion is that the foreign balance – and so net exports – need to shift by at least 5 per cent of GDP. Unfortunately, a disturbing new paper by Ken Coutts and Robert Rowthorn, for the think-tank, Civitas, argues that trends in the UK’s external position are in the opposite direction.

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