After the United Kingdom narrowly voted last year to leave the European Union, predictions swirled that the British economy would collapse. Yes, the pound plummeted 9% versus the dollar the day after the surprise result and remains down, but the economy as a whole has held up relatively well. Gross domestic product grew 1.8% in 2016, a tick behind only Germany’s 1.9% growth among the Group of Seven industrialized nations. Economic growth has continued in 2017, home prices are up and unemployment has sunk to a 42-year low at 4.3%.
Some U.K. companies are holding off on investments to see how Brexit effects trade relations, and growth is forecasted to slow in 2018, but Britain’s business climate remains attractive. The U.K. ranks first for the first time in Forbes’ 12th annual survey of the Best Countries for Business.
The U.K. ranked among the top 25 countries (out of 153 measured) in each of the 15 metrics tracked, outside of political risk where it ranked twenty-eighth. Great Britain ranked fifth overall last year. The U.K. scored particularly well on technological readiness (fourth) and the size and education of its workforce (third). Its $2.6 trillion economy is the fifth largest in the world. London serves as the central hub for European financial services and is home to financial giants like HSBC, Prudential and Barclays.