Thursday, January 22, 2009

Get Ready For The R-Word

At the stoke of midnight, the 'downturn' so beloved of Brown and his BBC turns into a pumpkin and a nightmare recession. With a bit of financial fairy dust, the country has narrowly avoided recession depression. Now they can't bury their heads in the sand.

It's not as if the recession isn't already with us. The US and Germany are already in recession. Here the official name has been spun around for "technical reasons" and used by some and not by others - as if the mere mention of the word 'recession' will send down a plague of locusts and frogs.

The public are big enough to take it. Indeed most folk would welcome someone who gave it to them straight. We can only all pull together when everyone knows which direction and just how hard to pull.

So why be so coy? The answer lies in borrowing Brown's dogged determination not to own up to anything and that includes his part in creating a debt culture and getting us into the economic mess in the first place.

To admit recession is to admit failure, as the country officially slides into its first recession since 1991.

Downing Street in collusion with the BBC in dreaming up the downturn, would have us believe talking down the economic crisis would undermine confidence. International investors could pull the plug on lending. So a 'downturn' is a soft landing.

But the international money-men have a bank of plasma screens all showing the state of financial markets around the world, including this from Bloomberg on Wednesday:

"Britain had a 14.9 billion-pound ($20.5 billion) budget deficit in December, the second highest for any month since records began in 1993, as the deepening recession pummelled tax receipts and jobless claims climbed."

At home it's spun as confidence boosting - or rather vote boosting - from a prime minister and his deputy Mandleson who live and breath the election.

Cameron in a speech today hit the nail on the head: 'This recession doesn't vindicate big government; it hammers the final nail in its coffin."

The recession is due to be confirmed tomorrow when output figures for the fourth quarter of 2008 are released. A 'technical' recession is defined by two successive quarters of negative output, as anyone with an Oxford First in economics will tell you.

The contraction in the UK economy for the final three months of the year follows a 0.6% decline in GDP for the third quarter.

Some economists are forecasting a 1.2% decline in GDP which would be the worst performance since the third quarter of 1990, some much steeper.

The week has been dominated by bad economic news. Inflation as measured by the government's Consumer Prices Index (CPI) down again to 2.6% in December, leading to further fears over deflation.

Unemployment as measured by government's benefit claims in November was 1.92 million, highest since New Labour took power in 1997.

This week has left ministers scrabbling around looking in vain for elusive green shoots.

Now presumably the BBC will have to scrap its downturn logo and replace it with ... "UK Recession". That's something ITV news has been running with for weeks.

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