«The fall of Andersen has a deeper symbolism. The more dishonest US figures are found to be, the greater the need to consider whether the right things are counted at all, not just in valuing companies but in nations' true wealth. Gordon Brown has been given to praising the US for greater "flexibility", "employment" and "productivity" than Europe. But closer scrutiny may question whether US productivity ever was quite what it seemed, or was much of that Andersen accounting too?
Andrew Dilnot, of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, points out that high productivity of US workers is mainly because they work fiendishly long hours. Eliminate that and the shaky science of measuring leaves little significant difference. Another frequent Brown comparison of US "success" with EU "failure" concerns low US unemployment. But it takes on another meaning where work is compulsory at a sub-survivable minimum wage. Work in the US leaves people poorer than unemployment in the EU. It is like rebadging galley slaves as "employed" and praising the productivity of shipping. America's real growth counting a notional per capita wealth signifies almost nothing in a grossly unequal society. Should there not also be a deficit column in these hard figures that subtracts its poverty, its over-work or lack of social provision? In which case Europe overtakes it.»