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Changes In The Uk During The 1970's

1030 words - 4 pages

The 1970’s was a turbulent period for the UK. High levels of inflation, an increase in oil prices due to conflict with the Middle East, and failing nationalized industries was crippling the once world power (Smith, 2010). The Labour party’s reign in parliament ended with the election of the Conservative party in 1979. Margaret Thatcher was elected as prime minister and a significant shift in economic policy was soon to follow. I initially decided to choose the time period between the late 1970’s to the mid 1980’s because of the significant increases in financial flows, shift in trade patterns and the changes in the GDP growth rate. The data provided allowed for foundation for policy change speculation. Once I narrowed down data which seemed to make the most significant changes, I was then able to research why these changes may have taken place.
During this time the North Sea Oil Company was banking large revenues from the high oil prices. North Sea Oil Company developed 18 new oil fields between 1967 and 1974, and by the year 1984, “the UK was producing 2.65 million barrels (of oil) per day, making the UK the world’s fifth-largest oil producer” (Money Week, 2005). Our data provided in class shows the UK increased the percentage of fuel as an export from 6% in 1978 to 10% in 1979, and did so after until it reached 22% of all exports in 1983. Fuel remained a large percentage of exports until the late 1980’s. Subsequently, fuel as a percentage of imports fell off from a high point of 18% in the late 70’s to a low 11% in 1983; virtually making the UK energy self sufficient. The policy changes surrounding the windfall of oil revenues pushed the UK out of economic trouble.
In October of 1979 the UK lifted exchange controls which allowed for a significant increase in bi-directional financial flows (Taylor and Tonks, 1989). Both inward and outward flows increased dramatically during this period. Increased demand for foreign and domestic investments was made possible by the abolition of exchange controls and the surge in oil exports. The current account surplus allowed UK to purchase mainly direct foreign investments and financial investments. The current account ran a surplus of 7, 14, and 8 billion during the three years following the lift of exchange controls. This was balanced by the deficit in the financial account. Surges in investment were predominantly found in the purchasing of financial assets; the UK jumped from accumulating on average 3.6 billion ‘other assets’ in the 5 years before the abolition and averaging 60.4 billion ‘other assets’ in the 5 years following. Additionally, the era in which the exchange controls were in place restricted the amount that UK residents could purchase of portfolio investments. It stipulated that residents could only invest in overseas from the sale of existing foreign securities or from foreign currency borrowing (Artis & Taylor, 1989). The argument is made that the lift of controls promoted significant...

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