Not so cautious

The economic forecast is more realistic than it was, having been downgraded this year and next. For 2008 1.75 to 2.25, for 2009 2.25 to 2.75 and for 2010, 2.5 to 3.0. The current consensus among outside forecasters is for growth of 1.7% this year, and 2.0% next.

The chancellor focuses on the bottom range of his forecasts and calls this "cautious", but in reality, the risks are mostly on the downside next year, and those risks could be quite significant. Mr Darling's forecasts appear reasonable, but not very cautious.

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