Figure 1 shows stark differences between Sweden, France, Italy and the UK since 1970 in departures from trend growth rates of 1.9% in real GDP per working age person, PPP. Italy did quite OK until 2000 growing at about the trend growth rate of 1.9% after which it fell into a hole so deep that it barely notice the onset of the global financial crisis. Sweden really had been the sick man of Europe until it turned its back on high taxing, welfare state socialism in the early 1990s. France has been in a long decline so much so that the global financial crisis is hard to pick up in the acceleration in its long decline in the mid-1990s. Figure 1 also shows Britain did very well, both under the neoliberal horrors of Thatcherism and the betrayals by Tony Blair of a true Labour Party platform. The UK grew at above the trend annual growth to 1.9% for most of the period from the early 1980s to 2007. The UK has done not so well since the onset of the global financial crisis.
Figure 1: Real GDP per Swede, French, British and Italian aged 15-64, 2014 US$ (converted to 2014 price level with updated 2011 PPPs), 1.9 per cent detrended, 1970-2013
Source: Computed from OECD StatExtract and The Conference Board. 2015. The Conference Board Total Economy Database™, May 2015, http://www.conference-board.org/data/economydatabase/
Note: When the line is flat, the economy is growing at its trend annual growth rate. A falling line means below trend annual growth; a rising line means of above trend annual growth. Detrended with values used by Edward Prescott.
German data was not in figure 1 because German unification threw all of its data into disarray for long-term comparison purposes.