A note of caution
It's like that old joke about Soviet propaganda - "The future is certain. It's the past that's so unpredictable."
We don't tend to get too excited about revisions to the GDP figures. But today's are worth pondering, even for the non-nerdy.
We had new data a few weeks showing the truly dire state of the construction industry. That was always going to make this a chunky revision. But that headline decline in GDP of 2.4% in the first three months of 2009 is even worse than expected - there hasn't been a larger fall in output since 1958.
New data on the service sector is partly to blame: it shows the sharpest quarterly decline in output on record.
There's plenty more in this mountain of new data, which basically shows the economy has been growing slower than we thought for most of the past two years.
A tiny revision to the growth figure for the second quarter of last year also means that the recession also started earlier than thought. Of course that has pyschological significance, but given that you're comparing zero growth to a decline of 0.1%, I wouldn't make too much of it by itself.
We may yet get a positive surprise when the first estimate for the second quarter comes out on 24 July. Indeed, the sheer scale of this decline in the first three months must make a sharp improvement more likely.
But if you thought that any recovery was resting on shaky foundations, you will see plenty of support for that view in today's news.
We like to say the UK consumer has been surprisingly resilient in this recession, yet today we learned that consumer spending in the first quarter suffered the sharpest fall in decades.
As I have said before, if that underlying weakness remains, it is quite possible that the recovery will peter out later in the year, as it did in 1981.
That note of caution about the recovery is the main message of today's news. But there is, I suppose, a bright side. If the economy is that much smaller than we thought, the amount of slack - or spare capacity - ought to be that much greater, and the chances of a rapid pick-up in inflation that much smaller.
Inflation hawks can sleep a little more soundly in their beds.