Mercator Dejection

The Economist maps the world's burgeoning debt.

A little doom and gloom before the weekend.

The Economist has drawn up an interactive map of approximate world debt, year by year, and country by country, since 1999.

As you would expect, the overall total global debt ($39 trillion) is rather large, and rising.

There's something perturbing about seeing Ireland, the UK and Iceland suddenly swamped in red by 2008. It's also salutory to remember that Greece's debt has been over 100 percent of it's GDP for ten years now.

The country that remains most constant is (Red) China, whose unwavering commitment to keep the value of the renminbi low by hoovering up US treasuries may be about to spark an intercontinental currency war. After all, China and the US can't keep propping each other up like two drunks forever.

Before you atart seeing red, remember folks, a lot of soveriegn debt (especially in the UK) is at least in part a bag of self-loaned IOUs, and there's not necessarily anything wrong with running deficits in hard times and paying them back in the good (a learning to Alan Johnson, and a fail for Gordon Brown).

More hearteningly, scrolling through debt as percentage of GDP over the years shows Africa (Sudan excepted) gradually emerging from the red.

I wonder what it will look like next year?

 

Ukip's Nigel Farage and Paul Nuttall. Photo: Getty
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Is the general election 2017 the end of Ukip?

Ukip led the way to Brexit, but now the party is on less than 10 per cent in the polls. 

Ukip could be finished. Ukip has only ever had two MPs, but it held an outside influence on politics: without it, we’d probably never have had the EU referendum. But Brexit has turned Ukip into a single-issue party without an issue. Ukip’s sole remaining MP, Douglas Carswell, left the party in March 2017, and told Sky News’ Adam Boulton that there was “no point” to the party anymore. 

Not everyone in Ukip has given up, though: Nigel Farage told Peston on Sunday that Ukip “will survive”, and current leader Paul Nuttall will be contesting a seat this year. But Ukip is standing in fewer constituencies than last time thanks to a shortage of both money and people. Who benefits if Ukip is finished? It’s likely to be the Tories. 

Is Ukip finished? 

What are Ukip's poll ratings?

Ukip’s poll ratings peaked in June 2016 at 16 per cent. Since the leave campaign’s success, that has steadily declined so that Ukip is going into the 2017 general election on 4 per cent, according to the latest polls. If the polls can be trusted, that’s a serious collapse.

Can Ukip get anymore MPs?

In the 2015 general election Ukip contested nearly every seat and got 13 per cent of the vote, making it the third biggest party (although is only returned one MP). Now Ukip is reportedly struggling to find candidates and could stand in as few as 100 seats. Ukip leader Paul Nuttall will stand in Boston and Skegness, but both ex-leader Nigel Farage and donor Arron Banks have ruled themselves out of running this time.

How many members does Ukip have?

Ukip’s membership declined from 45,994 at the 2015 general election to 39,000 in 2016. That’s a worrying sign for any political party, which relies on grassroots memberships to put in the campaigning legwork.

What does Ukip's decline mean for Labour and the Conservatives? 

The rise of Ukip took votes from both the Conservatives and Labour, with a nationalist message that appealed to disaffected voters from both right and left. But the decline of Ukip only seems to be helping the Conservatives. Stephen Bush has written about how in Wales voting Ukip seems to have been a gateway drug for traditional Labour voters who are now backing the mainstream right; so the voters Ukip took from the Conservatives are reverting to the Conservatives, and the ones they took from Labour are transferring to the Conservatives too.

Ukip might be finished as an electoral force, but its influence on the rest of British politics will be felt for many years yet. 

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