In 1939, all parts of British industry met the varied and massive demands of the armed forces.
In 2020 the economy is largely based on services and, with the coming of Covid-19, consumers are deciding that they don’t need those services and the government is advising against social contact on which many services are based. We therefore face unemployment rather than people working at full tilt. This is totally different. In parallel with the domestic service economy, there is an economy based on the consumption of largely imported products with deliberately short lives to encourage repeat purchasing. Will it expose the 21st century economy as a con, or can we return to an economy where we each serve each other but without the manic need for never ending consumption?
The crisis is offering an insight into the actual shape of the economy. In this article in The Guardian, Richard Partington underlines the massive significance of the hospitality industry ‘Britain’s hospitality industry contributes more than £120bn a year to the economy and is worth more than the automotive, pharmaceuticals and aeronautics industries combined. More than 3.2 million people work in pubs, restaurants and other outlets, making it the third-largest sector for employment. A further 2.8 million work in the wider supply chain. In an economy no longer dependent on people making things, we are dependent upon them buying services. When they are told to, the knock on is dreadful.