Dick Smythe

Author's posts

Wolf explains UK productivity gap

The great financial journalist Martin Wolf of the FT recently opined about the current state of UK productivity – disappointingly, his words offered no new insights and were simply a regurgitation of current groupthink. He kicked off with the now well-worn cliche from Paul Krugman about productivity being ‘almost everything’ – and then trotted out a …

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MIRACLE solution to productivity puzzle

The US is worried about the puzzle of their flat output/ GDP and productivity growth following the 2008 financial crisis, yet employment has risen Likewise the UK and other G7 nations They had all expected growth to ‘revert to trend’ by now and be at least 2% per annum, not approach zero as seems to …

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Basic steps to big improvements

There are various acronyms on offer for how to go about improvement projects viz: PDCA from TQM – Plan, Do, Check, Amend DMAIC from Six Sigma – Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, Control SREDIM from Work Study – Setup, Record, Examine, Develop, Implement, Maintain   All boil down to much the same process Managers, whatever their level and …

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Why do national productivity gaps persist?

Philip Hammond, UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, is forever saying: “It takes a German worker four days to produce what a UK worker makes in five” Others say much the same about French workers But such claims are not new, they’ve been made over the last 30 years at least We already know the ONS …

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Low Australia productivity affects all, not just a few

New Reserve Bank governor, Philip Lowe, says boosting productivity is essential if Australia is to maintain the living standards it has enjoyed in recent years He warns: “Australia’s remarkable boom times are over and the best way to maintain our standard of living is to have a laser-like focus on productivity”. In his first appearance before …

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It’s the rest, not the best, that’s the problem

The Brooking Institute’s Martin Neil Baily and Nicholas Montalbano considered the causes of the current global productivity puzzle recently “The most promising sign for future growth is that the most productive firms are growing faster than the rest – the frontier is still moving out – but the diffusion of best practices is not pulling the …

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Broad action needed post Brexit

In the Guardian, Katie Allen recommended ways Prime Minister Theresa May could ‘lift the UK economy’s post-Brexit’ blues – via: Tax cuts – especially VAT More infrastructure spending – traffic jams and delivery delays waste a huge amount of time, adding to unit costs and reducing national productivity Encouraging huge increases in housebuilding across the nation, …

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Wage levels versus Productivity

President John F. Kennedy believed that “a rising tide lifts all boats” but many question if that remains true today in the business world They point to data showing that productivity has risen sharply since the end of WW2 whilst wages have stagnated and conclude that productivity-driven economic growth does not necessarily benefit USA workers …

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Pin factory productivity

Adam Smith illustrated how the division of labour could improve productivity in the famous small pin factory example he used in his tome ‘Wealth of Nations’, 1776, viz: 10 workers, each specialising in a different aspect of the work , could produce over 48,000 pins a day However, if each of these ten workers had made …

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Full AI impact may take time

Erik Brynjolfson, an MIT economics professor, says: “We are optimistic about the ultimate productivity growth fuelled by AI and complementary technologies The real issue is that it takes time to implement changes in processes, skills and organisational structures to fully harness AI’s potential as a GPT (General Purpose Technology)”   Benefits from specific applications are …

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GE announces ‘Big Data’ productivity gains

A new report from GE – General Electric, USA – found that the Industrial Internet  could add €2.2 trn to European GDP by 2030, boost productivity and spur economic expansion. The report, called The Industrial Internet – Pushing the Boundaries of Minds and Machines: A European Perspective, says that a mere 1 % increase in efficiency …

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Myths about productivity?

An interesting set of views and counter claims about productivity were found on Google: It leads to higher wages: It doesn’t It needs collective bargaining, but unions have mostly lost their influence It doesn’t result in fewer jobs: In an ideal world, it would lead to increased output, increased market share and even increased number of …

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UK public sector wastes £120bn – every year!

A new report from the Taxpayers’ Alliance claims that the UK public sector wastes £120 billion each and every year And this is despite claims of tightening belts and being forced to close libraries or fire lollipop ladies. It’s equivalent to a cost of some £4,500 for every British family. They say: “A relentless war on …

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