What cost the bailouts?

Crime & Security, Money, Systems thinking

With reference to this conversation on facebook, wherein Crispin was suggesting that 5,000 days of lost workforce productivity (on account of the G20 demonstrations) could have been better spent, I was compelled to work out the following.


Well if it’s maths that worries you…

Total spend on bailout so far:

£1,200,000,000,000 (1.2 trillion)

But let’s be generous and say that’s not all that is cost since there’s some asset purchase in there. (Though those assets are declining in value..), so let’s say half that, so, total COST of bailout =

£600,000,000,000 (600 billion)

TOTAL yearly revenue in taxes (in 2007, which was a good year don’t forget):
£600,000,000,000 (600 billion)

The Chancellor said that total public spending would rise from £589 billion in the financial year 2007-08 to £678 billion in 2010-11.

So you can see that the government was spending every penny it had (yay Labour!). Which means that to pay off that debt, taxes need to go up, right?

So UK GDP is:

£2,130,000,000,000 (2.13 trillion)

Working population is:

29,380,000,000 (29.3m and this number is falling as the population ages)

Working days per year: 223

So the average British worker generates the following per working day:

GDP divided by working population = GDP per capita
GDP per capita divided by working days = our answer

2.13tn / 29.38m = 72,498
72,493 / 233 = £325 per person productivity per day

So to pay off £600bn will take 600bn / 325 =

1,845,560,520 (1.845bn) days of extra work.

Divide that by the population to find out how much more the average person will have to work to pay this off =
1.845bn / 29.38m = 62.81 days

So if EVERYONE WORKING IN THE UK worked an extra 62.81 days, not taking ANY income at all, or contributing anything to any other public spending, we’d pay off the debt.

To put that in perspective, if we went the whole hog and worked a full 63 days, we’d generate another £28.8m, which is about what it would cost to provide the whole North East with an electric car infrastructure network.

So whilst your concern about 5000 working days lost is noted, that’s 0.00027% of what we’ll have to do to pay for these ‘mistakes’ (aka greed and legislative spinelessness).


1. In case anyone reading this is thrown by the large numbers (which is probably everyone, since they are VERY large numbers), here’s a comparison:

1m seconds = 11.5 days
1bn seconds = 31.6 years
1tn seconds = 31,688 years

2. These numbers are not going to be right. They’re going to be worse, since the population is aging and we’ll be paying more in pensions and healthcare (already the largest slices of the tax spend pie); and we’ll be paying interest on the debt it generates. So… yeah.. sorry to bring you down, but next time think about who you choose to work for, and who you choose to vote for, eh?

Ed Dowding

Ed Dowding

Founder, strategist, writer, gadfly, TED talker, world-record holder, and (foolishly) reality-TV farmer. DOES: Innovation, Product, Advocacy THINKS: Regenerative Systems, Institution design, 300 year horizons


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