The German stock market index, the Dax, ended 1991 at 1,602. Twenty five years later it had risen just over sixfold, to 9795. The FTSE, which 25 years ago was nearly double the level of the Dax at 2,943, has just managed to rise two fold to reach its present level of 6,053.
That 25 year transformation represents not just a transformation in stock market levels but a transformation in the economic standing of the UK.
One of the most important statistics about the UK’s economic performance is provided by the levels at which its main stock market index peaked. The FTSE on an annual basis peaked in 1999 at 6,930 and is still well below that level 16 years later. It did manage to break through to a new high for some 3 months from February 2015 when it temporarily reached 7,103 but apart from that blip, the nearest it got to equalling the 1999 high was in 2013 when it reach 6,749.
Twenty five years of economic decline as mirrored by its stock market. Twenty five years as a member of the EU. Why should remaining in the EU bring the dawn of a new golden age of prosperity, when the last 25 brought us to our economic knees.
The UK’s wealth has been dissipated during the last 25 years. Our hospitals have become so dangerous that they can often be a bigger health threat than the illness for which you are admitted. If you want to see your GP you will probably have to wait two weeks for an appointment, by which time you will either dead or cured by the chemist. The police service ignores much crime. It records it but claims it can not investigate it. Education has become such a shambles that it can not even organise exams properly.
But does all this mean that membership of the EU is responsible for the decline. Would it have happened irrespective of whether we were in or out. Has our miserable long term performance been yet another example of the effects of loss of Empire, the refusal of our leaders to accept that the UK can only afford a reduced role on the world stage. Has their self indulgent attempts to cling to the tails of the USA, crippled the countries finances, as the UK eagerly joins every war it can, just to pretend it is still a big hitter.
Why do we insist that we have to be in every war there is, wherever it is and whether it is a just war or not. What state would the countries finances and its economy be in if we had not rushed to volunteer for wars which were not our wars. The sensible European countries stay out of most of them, preferring to prosper instead.
I suspect that membership of the EU is probably irrelevant to our economy.
What is not irelevant though is the lack of democratic institutions, the overwhelming presence of a dictatorial beaurocracy and the talk of a European army. Now that really would be a laugh and in itself, just cause for getting out as quickly as possible. But more of that, next week.