Knowledge economy ‘can drive Merseyside’s recovery’

In a podcast interview, Liverpool academic Prof Michael Parkinson says coronavirus has caused a ‘cataclysmic’ shock but insists the local economy remains ‘resilient’. Tony McDonough reports

Professor Michael Parkinson
Professor Michael Parkinson says coronavirus presents challenges and opportunities


Leading Liverpool academic and expert on economic development Professor Michael Parkinson says coronavirus has caused a “cataclysmic shock” to the Merseyside economy.

And, although he says the regional economy is more “resilient” than it has been in the past, he warned that the sectors hardest hit by the lockdown – development, tourism and retail – were the ones that had been driving economic growth in the city region.

However, he added that the investment into the medical and scientific sectors as part of the battle against the pandemic offered a huge opportunity for Liverpool city region’s knowledge economy over the coming years.

Prof Parkinson was speaking on this month’s Baltic Triangle Podcast. Back in the 1980s he was the author of Liverpool on the Brink – an analysis of the parlous economic state of the city at that time.

Last year he published a follow-up work: Liverpool Beyond the Brink – the Remaking of a Post-Imperial City. In the book he said the Merseyside had the potential to continue its recent renaissance. But in the podcast interview he said the COVID-19 epidemic and subsequent lockdown were having, and would continue to have, a huge impact.

“There is no point in underestimating the impact of all of this,” said Prof Parkinson. “The book was confident and hopeful and was based on real evidence. But this a cataclysmic shock to the global economy, to the national economy and to our own economy here in the Liverpool city region.

“However, I remain confident. Our communities have come a long way in the last 30 years and are more resilient. I do think we must not underestimate both the challenges and opportunities this brings to us. These kinds of crisis can actually crash-set the system.”

He said the hit the developments, tourism and retail sectors were taking right now presented a particular challenge to the Liverpool city region and he identified “productivity, people and places” where the specific challenges lay. But he added: “The investment into the knowledge economy due to the global pandemic will actually strengthen that bit of our economy.”

The full podcast is available on Spotify (free to sign up and listen). Click here to listen

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