Britain’s Second Quarter GDP Numbers Worse Than Expected

The one thing I continue to worry about even as this economy appears to be on a very slow mend is another shoe dropping. I don’t think that just happened but here’s a poignant reminder that there are a lot of boots hanging over our heads.

The Telegraph is reporting that the U.K. had a much larger than expected decline in second quarter GDP and, so far, the statistics nicely mirror the first year of the Depression:

Economic output shrank by 5.6pc in the 12 months to the middle of the year, according to official figures which shattered hopes that the recovery has already begun.

The Office for National Statistics said that Britain’s gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by 0.8pc in the second quarter, following the unprecedented 2.4pc fall in the first three months of the year. Economists had expected GDP – the broadest measure of the country’s economic performance – to shrink by 0.3pc.

According to calculations by Martin Weale of the National Institute for Economic and Social Research the profile of the current recession is now almost identical to the decline in Britain’s output between 1929 and 1931. The 5.6pc contraction over the past year almost matches the 5.8pc fall in the year preceding the second quarter of 1931, during which Credit Anstalt in Austria collapsed, triggering a second wave of economic seizure across Europe.

The recession is far deeper and more severe than those of the early 1980s and 1990s, Mr Weale added.

“Gordon Brown is now competing with Ramsay MacDonald – not a comparison he would much like,” he said. “It looks as if we are pretty much tracking the 1930s,

“The financial crisis has been much bigger [than in the 1930s], the period of boom beforehand was more marked; and so you might think it’s thanks to the policies [from the Bank of England and Government] that we’ll end up with something slightly less bad but along similar lines.”

I think you can make too much out of the similarities between periods and I doubt that the U.K. is heading down the depression road. Their governmental response has been vigorous and properly targeted and while the numbers are still horrible, the trend is at least their friend. Nevertheless, the longer they suffer, the less likely are we to see any robust recovery.

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