Business: BRITAIN'S RESISTANCE TO PAINFUL CURES

TAX increases in Britain are imposed with guillotine-like dispatch. Disclosing few, if any, details in advance, the government presents the bad news in its annual budget and gets quick approval from a compliant Parliament. In what has become a national guessing game, Britons start hedge-buying weeks beforehand on goods and services that they expect to be hit by new taxes. They are urged on by shop-window posters that read "Beat the Budget." Because of Britain's economic difficulties, the guessing in recent years has been over where—not whether—the tax ax would fall.

Thus, few...

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