Reasons to be cheerful - part three

  • 22 December 2011
  • From the section Business
  • comments

A reason to be 0.1% more cheerful, today, from the Office for National Statistics, which revised up our quarterly growth rate in the three months to September by exactly that amount.

Pedants will point out that the figure for the previous quarter was revised down, by 0.1% - meaning we are pretty much exactly where we thought we were.

And the current account deficit hit a a record £15.2bn, or an alarming 4% of GDP.

However, we know these trade figures jump about a lot from quarter to quarter. The average current account gap for the first three quarters - at 2.7% of GDP - is below the 3.1% of GDP for the same period in 2010.

And besides, in Stephanomics this week I'm determined to see the glass half-full.

We certainly have enough pessimism to be getting on with. The latest global survey of economic confidence from Ipsos Mori shows us going into 2012 as one of the gloomiest nations on earth.

Emerging sunshine

You can understand why the likes of India and China should be so much more upbeat than us.

As I wrote earlier in the year, Brazilians have plenty to be sunny about as well.

But Italy's economy is now only about 1% bigger than it was a decade ago, and the forecast for the next ten years within the euro, is not much better.

More than a fifth of the Spanish workforce is unemployed, and a majority of its young people.

It's difficult to see why the mood in either country should be more upbeat than it is here.

Perhaps it's true what they say: the British are the only people capable of feeling schadenfreude about their own misfortune.


This time, of course, we have plenty to feel gloomy about. With today's figures, our national income is still 3.8% below where it was before the recession, in the first quarter of 2008.

If the forecasts are right, it will be 2015 before we get back to that point, making it the slowest recovery since before the 1930s.

But you never know: all these economic predictions might just turn out to be wrong.

After all, they usually are. We've had our fair share of negative surprises in the past few years but by the law of averages, sooner or later something will turn out better than expected.

Here's hoping.