Publicado en The Economist el 26 de enero de 2010. A lo que se ve, allí tampoco es que lo pasen bien.
"The British economy
Stuck in the mud
The British economy is struggling to get out of the mire
Jan 26th 2010 | From The Economist online
BRITAIN’S long-awaited exit from recession has moved from thwarted
prediction to firm fact. But the welcome news came with a painful sting.
The economy barely crawled forward, expanding by just 0.1% between the
third and the fourth quarters of 2009, according to the Office for
National Statistics (ONS) on Tuesday January 26th. This was much feebler
than the median forecast among City economists for an increase of 0.4%.
The recession lasted a year and a half and was both the longest and
deepest since the mid-1940s (when national output fell in the aftermath
of the second world war). Indeed the slump of 4.8% in GDP last year was
the steepest since 1931, when national output fell by 5.1%.
Britain’s recession was the longest among the G7 economies, which
typically had downturns lasting a year, although Italy’s lasted for five
quarters. It was not the most severe, measured from the pre-recession
peak to the trough. That unfortunate accolade went to Japan (8.6%)
followed by Germany (6.7%) and then Italy (6.5%). Their earlier recovery
meant, however, that Britain’s 6.0% fall in output between early 2008
and the third quarter of 2009 was surpassed only by Japan (7.7%)(see daily
All these figures will be revised in due course. Usually this is a
routine matter but in the run-up to a general election, which must be
held by June 3rd at the latest, but is widely expected to be on May 6th,
any changes will be politically potent. In Britain, the ONS has already
moderated its initial estimate of a fall in GDP of 0.4% in the third
quarter of 2009, to 0.2%. Gordon Brown, the prime minister, will be
hoping that the meagre increase in national output for the fourth
quarter may be pushed up when the official number-crunchers, armed with
more information, revisit the figures on February 26th and March 30th.
Business surveys have suggested a more robust upturn and the labour
market has been more resilient than expected.
But there is a potential pitfall for Mr Brown. The ONS will unveil
its initial estimate of GDP in the first quarter on April 23rd. If this
were to show a return to recession the news would torpedo Labour’s
already slender hopes of averting a Conservative victory. Such a relapse
could happen because the main rate of VAT, a consumption tax charged on
most goods and services, went up to 17.5% on January 1st, following 13
months when it had been lowered to 15% in order to combat the recession.
Since consumers brought purchases forward in late 2009 to dodge the
impending increase they are likely to cut back now, hindering a further
expansion in national output.
Looking longer ahead, the outlook is for a pretty modest recovery
this year. GDP will increase by 1.4% in 2010 according to the average of
28 independent forecasts in early January assembled by the Treasury
(which itself predicted 1.25% in December). Much of the recovery will
come from a turnaround in the stockbuilding cycle, as inventories are
run down far less than before.
Ensuring that this fragile upturn is sustained will require some
skill from policymakers. The recovery has been helped by an
extraordinary stimulus, both fiscal and monetary. The budget deficit has
burgeoned to a post-war record, the base rate is at a 300-year low and
the policy of “quantitative easing” has been vigorously pursued. As
Britain belatedly leaves recession behind, so the Treasury and the Bank
of England will want to execute their own “exit strategies”.
Co-ordination will be vital. The tougher the fiscal tightening, the
easier monetary policy can remain. But none of these crucial decisions
will be made until Britain has a new government after the general
A veces hay que mirar fuera, aunque solo sea para ver que otros tampoco lo pasan bien. No se consuela quien no quiere.