Economic parallels of COVID-19 with 1914-18 and 1939-45

Philip Hamlyn Williams blog

A package equivalent to 15% of GDP, as announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 17 March 2020, is of the magnitude of support for the war effort.

In 1914-18 there were still gold reserves, gold mined in Empire nations and investments overseas. One and a half centuries of industrial growth, during most of which Britain had been the workshop of the world, had built up substantial resources. Even in 1914, when Germany and the USA had caught up in terms of industrial production, British shipyards produced one third of the world’s ships and the cotton mills of Lancashire produced enough yarn and textiles to cloth half the world.[1] The war came at a great economic and well as human cost; some £11,325 million was spent, including loans to Russia which were never repaid. About one third was raised through taxation, £500 million from the sale of investments…

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