UK avoids a double-dip
So it's back to the future at the British economy: it grew by 0.5 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, recovering from a contraction of 0.5 per cent in the fourth quarter of last year.
In other words the economy was effectively stagnant over the past six months: gross domestic product (GDP) was same in the first quarter of this year as it was in the third quarter of last year.
The latest official growth figures are broadly in line with City expectations but, interestingly, below the predication of the Office for Budget Responsibility, which had expected 0.8%. Of course 0.5% for Q1 is an early estimate which could be revised (up or down 0.2%, says the Office for National Statistics).
Manufacturing is still growing nicely (+1.1%) and construction had another bad quarter (-4.7%), probably reflecting the cuts in public investment begun by the last government and continued by the current one.
Some of the growth in transport and other areas reflects a bounce back from the Oct-Dec slump.
Probably a mistake to read too much into these latest growth figures, especially since they're preliminary.
I think we can safely say a double-dip has been avoided. But growth this year is unlikely to be no more than lacklustre.
And with retail sales in the doldrums, living standards squeezed, house prices still falling, inflation still strong and the economy no bigger than it was six months ago, pessimists will not be ruling out stagflation (ie little or no growth and rising prices).