Friday, April 24, 2009

Faster, further, deeper

The economy is falling faster and further than expected - even two days ago.

The British economy contracted by 1.9pc in the first three months of the year, far more than economists expected, as Britain braces itself for decades of austerity.

Wow - almost 2% in one quarter - and there was dear old Darling predicting a 3% fall in total for this year.

The decline in gross domestic product was sharper than the 1.6pc seen in the final three months of 2008, when Britain officially entered recession. Economists had expected expected a fall of 1.5pc.

So, the "recession" isn't just not easing - it's rapidly accelerating. I don't know who these economists are, but surely there has to come a point when we stop listening to them?

It is the sharpest quarterly fall in gross domestic product (GDP) since 1979, when it fell by 2.4pc in the third quarter. At that time, the country was buckling under the pressure of mass unemployment and an intense class war.

Yep -and if I remember correctly, it was also a year plagued by mass strikes. Funny how stopping work leads to a decline production. This fall has occurred without the mass strikes and production cuts caused by them - which ought to ring a few alarm bells.

The figure will embarrass Alistair Darling, who predicted in his Budget statement on Wednesday that in the first quarter the economy contracted "by a similar amount" to the fourth quarter of 2008.

The Chancellor didn't lie - 1.9% is similar to 1.6% - he just didn't admit the full scale of the implications of that extra 0.3%. Who'd have thought he'd do that in the last budget before an election? Pretty much everyone, as it happens - just as an aside, are Telegraph journalists really this naive? Just wondering.

"For that to be achieved, GDP would have to be broadly flat from the second quarter onwards, yet the surveys are already pointing to another fall of 1pc or so," said Vicky Redwood at Capital Economics.

Hmm - 1% or so? So that might 1% or it might be 1.6%? Seems like it isn't only the Chancellor who deals in vague assumptions.

Although the economy is expected to fall at a slower pace in the months ahead, economists have warned it will not seem better for many as hundreds of thousands more jobs go.

These same economists were saying that the economy was expected to fall at a slower pace in the last quarter. It didn't - and I don't think it is likely to slow up any more this quarter than it did last quarter.

"Although one or two positive signs have started to appear, we face another 12-18 months of serious grief," said Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to the Ernst & Young ITEM Club.

Really? I'm expecting another 12-18 years of serious grief myself.

The economy is falling further and faster than any of the self-proclaimed experts predicted and that means that the downturn is going to be deeper than anyone is daring to admit to. As far as I can see, we are still on course for a long and deep depression.

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