Reflections of an English Coolie
You are not leaving America
I have spent my adult life working for American companies while remaining in the Greater London area. I know the Yank, the Doughboy, the gringo. A provincial southern Englander, I have been lucky to grease the plumbing of the Transatlantic death star.
Part of my appeal as an employee for the big dogs is wage arbitrage. The Russell group-equipped yuppie scuttling through mouldy flat shares in Tooting is far more grateful for sub-$50,000 work than an Ivy league San Franciscan, Austonian, or Pittsburghese.
UK wages have fallen sharply behind that of the U.S. in the post-2008 world. In 2014 it was remarked that the U.K.’s GDP per capita was smaller than Mississippi. This was criticized as a reductive analysis given the much higher levels of inequality in the U.S. But it’s hard to argue post-2008 there has not been a deeply negative divergence in the two countries’ ability to create wealth. In 2008 British GDP per capita was greater than America’s. By 2021 it was 68% of it. We can at least rejoice that our decline has been mimicked by the rest of Europe. But at least Germany utilized low wages to maximize exports. We have pursued American consumption on less than 70% of the wages.