News of a sector's buoyancy during economic turbulence is usually met with approval, but when the industry is defence, good cheer can be harder to muster. Global military spending rose by 4% in 2008 (and by 45% in the past 10 years), with $65.35bn spent in the UK. But do you feel any safer? Raking in the big bucks are major arms firms that have seen increased revenue, profits and order backlogs. Forty-four US companies accounted for 61% of total arms sales in 2007. Several UK-owned firms, such as BAE Systems, expanded in the US and saw sales exceed £18.5bn in 2008. Peacekeeping operations, which also boost industry profits, rose by 11%. Missions such as Darfur and the Congo have helped set a new record of 187,586 peacekeeping personnel worldwide, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. All this, coupled with the involvement in Iraq, pushed spending last year to 1988 cold-war levels. The institute notes that high military spending can cause economic difficulties even for rich nations: in Bush's eight-year presidency, US military expenditure reached the highest level in real terms since World War II, while the country plunged into economic hell.
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