In the teeth of the worst financial crisis in living memory, BBC business editor Robert Peston examines how the world got to this point and how the collossal imbalances in the global economy have left the UK in need of a radical economic overhaul.
In this first of two programmes Peston examines how, thirty years ago, momentous decisions were taken which shaped the world we live in today. In China, Deng Xiao Ping opened up the country to foreign capitalists; in Britain and America, the free market revolution was unleashed by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. The Party's Over compares the lives of workers in a Chinese company with their co-workers in Britain. Robert Peston interviews bankers, politicians and economists, and concludes that the boom we enjoyed before the crash was based on an illusion, and that the world's economy is now so unbalanced that in the West we face a sobering wake-up call.
In the second of two programmes Peston asks how Britain can compete in the new world economic order. After years of living beyond our means the country surely needs to wean itself off the consumer society, but doing so threatens our retail dependent economy. In Germany the model of thrift and investment, far from the quick buck mentality of the City of London, has produced a powerful manufacturing and exporting economy that Britain, once so proud of its modern finance based approach, is desperate to imitate. It is a long road to rebalancing the British model and with the Eurozone crisis still threatening further financial armageddon, Peston asks whether we are in for decades, rather than years, of sluggish growth. Featuring interviews with senior economists, bankers and politicians, as well as the ordinary people in several countries, whose livelihoods depend on the outcome of this vast economic reordering of the world.