Making Invisibles Visible
The UK is the world's second largest exporter of services. But can this success be maintained? Linda Yueh asks how the country's invisible economy can be made more visible.
The UK is the world's second largest exporter of services - and has been for some time. The surplus generated by these "invisibles" - everything from banking to public relations to whizzy new phone apps - helps balance the country's stubbornly high deficit in "visibles" or things.
Yet politicians talk continually about the need to rebalance the economy away from services. Linda Yueh finds this puzzling. As with other advanced economies, services comprise a very large proportion of our output - around three-quarters of the economy - and yet we spend a great deal of time worrying about a far smaller and long declining part of it: manufacturing.
It is understandable to want to reduce our deficit in goods, says Linda. But while we try to do that, she argues, we should also try to understand more about the reasons for our success in services - and how to maintain and augment it. In this edition of "Analysis", she finds out why it is difficult to make invisibles visible and why it is important for our future growth and wealth that we do.
Along the way, she discovers how innovation in services is distinctive, why services firms invest heavily in their staff and why the popular enthusiasm for bashing bankers is misguided. We have to start loving the people we hate, Linda argues. And by making the invisible sector more visible, she says, we can make that process easier and more credible.
Producer: Simon Coates.