The most important question
Economists have drawn such contrasting conclusions about the future of the recovery this week, you'd be forgiven for giving up on the lot of them.
First, we had the IMF giving Britain's economy a big thumbs up. It said the government's deficit plans had done wonders for our standing in global markets, and the recovery would be strong enough to withstand the cuts.
As Martin Wolf says this morning in the FT [registration required] - theirs was more a love letter than a sober report. George Osborne couldn't believe his luck.
Yet barely 24 hours later, a leading member of the committee that sets Britain's monetary policy offered a much darker view. Adam Posen said the Bank of England should rush to inject more cash into the economy, or else risk a long period of high unemployment and low growth. As I discussed in my post on Tuesday, he's an expert on what happened in Japan in the 1990s - and he sees a real possibility that we will have our own lost decade now in the UK.
So - you might say - economists can't agree. What a shock. Posen has one vote on the committee, out of nine. Another member, Andrew Sentance, is worried about inflation. He has already voted to put base rates up.
But there is a larger lesson here: that the most important question mark hanging over Britain's economy is not whether we suffer a double dip. The recovery will probably bounce around a lot in the next year - but none of these economists expects it seriously to go into reverse.
In fact, they all think we're looking at a slow and painful road out of recession - because slow and painful recoveries are what countries coming out of financial crises usually get.
The difference is that the IMF thinks that's the best we can get. Whereas Adam Posen thinks we could do better - and the Bank should try. I went into his reasoning in that earlier post, but the basic idea is that by pumping more money into the economy, the Bank could not just raise demand in the economy - but also the long run supply.
I described Posen's view as "subversive". In central bank circles, some of them are. This week, two members of the Federal Reserve's policy committee also gave contrasting speeches on the case for doing more. This stuff is hard: if the answer were obvious they would all agree.
But in both countries, you have to say the wind is blowing in Dr Posen's direction. Right now, inflation is much higher here than it is in the US, but the recovery in the UK, if anything, is a little bit weaker.
With the possible - very limited - exception of inflation expectations, it is hard to identify a single indicator suggesting inflation is about to pick up. And many on the MPC accept the point that under-estimating potential growth could carry a long-term cost.
Given the relative balance of risks, I think it's quite likely that the MPC will opt to do more QE by the end of the year - albeit less enthusiastically than Posen would like.
In normal times, pumping even more money into the economy would be a disaster. "This time is different" is the mantra that got us into this mess. Coming out of the crisis, central banks are still deciding whether this time, it's really true.