As regular readers of this blog know, I think that total factor productivity growth is the best measure of an economy's health. A new paper from the BIS calculates TFP growth for most of the large industrial countries over the past 40 years, and comes up with some surprising conclusions (Thanks to the very sharp New Economist for pointing out the paper).

Here are the winners and losers, ranked by two criteria--current level of TFP growth, and change in TFP growth over the past forty years.

Big Winners:
US
Australia
Ireland

Doing okay but not great:
France
Norway
Sweden
Canada
Denmark
New Zealand
Iceland

Disaster areas:
Switzerland
Japan
Germany
UK
Belgium
Netherlands
Spain
Italy

The big surprises are the decent performance of France, and the terrible performance of the UK, Netherlands, and Spain, especially since the UK and Spain are thought of as success stories. France has maintained roughly a 1% growth rate of TFP for the past 40 years, which is not bad but not terrible either, especially when compared to the 0.3% clocked by Japan. I have actually begun to worry more about the UK than France.

Here is the full data table. I ranked the countries on current TFP growth, and the amount of change in TFP growth, and then averaged the rankings.

Total Factor Productivity Growth
A B
US 0.8 2
Australia 1.5 1.4
Ireland -0.7 4
France 0.1 1
Norway -1.3 2.2
Sweden -0.8 1.8
Canada -0.5 1.2
Denmark 0 1
NZ 0.7 0.8
Iceland -1.5 1.6
Switzerland 0.5 0.2
Japan -0.1 0.3
Germany -1.6 0.9
UK -1.1 0.8
Belgium -1.9 0.9
Netherlands -1.9 0.6
Spain -1.7 0.2
Italy -3.2 -0.3
Column A= Difference between TFP growth
in 1996-2004 and TFP growth in 1966-75
Column B = TFP growth rate in 1996-2004
Data: Les Skoczylas and Bruno Tissot
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