26 MARCH 1954, Page 34


Britain in the World Economy. By Sir Dennis H. Robertson. (Allen & Unwin. 7s. 6d.)

SPEAKING in 1947 to the British Association, Sir Dennis Robertson remarked that "what are politely called 'balance of payment difficulties' do not necessarily drop like murrain from heaven, but that any nation which gives its mind to it can create them for itself in half an hour with the aid of the printing press and a strong trade union movement." This remark, quoted in his new book, is characteristic both in its trenchancy and in the attitude to Britain's economic difficulties which it implies. In the four chapters of Britain in the World Economy— originally four lectures delivered at the University of Virginia—Sir Dennis gives a beautifully lucid account of the mess we are in and how we got there, together with some indications of the kinds of things that we might be doing to get ourselves out of it. It is an account in which the classic, rather bleak detachment oC the economic mandarin is occasionally mitigated by tartness or, as in the discussion of tariffs, warmed by a note of persuasion addressed to his American audience. This is a book for laymen, but Sir Dennis does not 'talk down,' so that into what the publishers describe as "a modest little volume" he manages to pack a great deal of information, and thought, on such subjects as capital equipment, exports, imports, the economic situation of the sterling area, and discrimination. The modest little volume might be described as

a brief Olympian survey. J. D. S.