The magic of currencies: UK overtakes Brazil as the world’s sixth largest economy
Despite recession and the poor performance Britain has clawed back the ground it lost to Brazil in the rankings of the world's richest economies - but it is not expected to hold on to the spot for long.
Only a year after being surpassed by Brazil for the first time, Britain has edged back ahead of Latin American largest economy in 2012 thanks to the weakness of the Brazilian currency, according to estimates from the Centre for Economics and Business Research.
Britain's national output is estimated at 2.443 trillion, compared with Brazil's 2.282 trillion, according to the consultancy. Next year Britain is likely to push ahead of France as well, as the Euro member's high taxes on the wealthy weigh on competitiveness, the CEBR predicts.
However, Britain will resume its slide back down the rankings later in the decade as emerging nations enjoy rapid growth. Brazil, which hosts the football World Cup in two years' time and the Olympic Games in 2016, will bounce back to overtake Britain as soon as 2014, before pushing decisively beyond us, the CEBR says.
Britain's race with Brazil shows the importance of currency movements in determining the size of countries' economies. Britain has experienced no economic growth at all this year, but the pound has enjoyed gains against the dollar, in contrast to the real, which has lost ground.
Britain is widely expected to enjoy a somewhat stronger year in 2013 than in 2012, with growth forecast by the Office for Budget Responsibility at 1.2%, compared with a 0.1% contraction this year. But Brazil's growth is expected to be much punchier: the IMF projects expansion of 1.5% this year and 4% in 2013.
The analysis rates the US, China and Japan as the biggest three economies in the world in 2012 and they are expected to maintain those positions for the next 10 years, at least.
In their wake China will continue its heady ascent. Its economy is only 53% of the size of America's at present, but by 2022 that figure will have risen to 83%.
European countries, by contrast, are expected to slip relentlessly down the league table. India is forecast to overtake Britain in 2017, making it the largest economy in the Commonwealth, the CEBR predicts. Germany will drop from fourth place now to sixth place in 2022 as it, too, is overtaken by India and Brazil.
Britain will slip two places over the next ten years, falling from sixth place to eighth. France will suffer a more precipitous fall, dropping from fifth place to ninth, while Italy will drop from eighth place to thirteenth.
The big gains will be seen among emerging markets, with India becoming the fourth-biggest economy in the world by 2022. Indonesia, which the world's sixteenth-largest economy at present, will jump six places to enter the top ten by 2022.
Douglas McWilliams, of the CEBR, said: We have been neck-and-neck with Brazil for some time. Last year they overtook us; this year we have overtaken them again. From 2014 onwards, however, their more dynamic economy is likely to pull them decisively beyond us”.
We are beating some other countries, though. We are poised to overtake France either in 2013 or 2014, as the economic effects of President Hollande's 75% tax policy and the difficulties of the Euro drag France down”.