May 2010 May 2015 National debt: £915bn £1,560bn Budget deficit: £168bn £76bn Base rate: 0.5% 0.5% FTSE 100: 5350 6885 Quantitative easing: £200bn £375bn VAT: 17.5% 20% CPI inflation: 3.4% 0.0% Consumer price index: 114.6 127.6 One pound is worth: €1.1683 €1.3486 $1.4496 $1.5214 CHF 1.64 CHF 1.40 NOK 9.00 NOK 11.27 One barrel brent crude oil: $75.95 $67.26 One litre petrol at pump: £1.219 £1.120 One pint organic milk costs: £0.53 £0.60 Price of gold (1 troy oz) £804 £782 Nationwide house price index: £167,802 £189,454 Halifax house price index: £168,202 £192,970 Unemployment: 1.43m 1.86m Average earnings: £23,348 £25,220
How would we think about these numbers had we known them five years ago? Well the national debt would be a horror, and the deficit was supposed to be zero by now. No-one really expected the lowest ever base rate of 0.5% to stick for so long, and not surprisingly house prices have run out of control.
But the fall in the oil price would be a pleasant surprise, as would the increase in sterling against various foreign currencies. The Swiss franc is notable here for its value retaining properties. Gold would have been a bad investment (although it has peaked much higher in the intervening years) but equities were good, amounting a 5% approx gain per year. The inflation number would have seemed like an amazing achievement, but it's just a blip and has been higher during the course of the five years.
The numbers can be summarised as "feel good" but actually bad. Most of the gain has been bought at the cost of an enormous increase in the national debt. On the down side unemployment is up and salary growth is subdued at best, an 8% increase of over the five years compared with an 11% increase in the cost of living (CPI).
In other news, this time five years ago we were troubled by volcanic ash clouds from Iceland, a BP oil leak in the gulf of Mexico and Greece failing to pay its debts. Of these only Greece remains topical and we are exercised by ISIS in Iraq, a Saudi vs Yemen war and blacks rioting in Ferguson Missouri and Baltimore.
To sum up the government of the last five years - they didn't really fix anything.