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Triple-dip recession chances 'high'

An unprecedented triple-dip recession for the UK will be confirmed if Friday's contraction in GDP is followed by another decline in the current quarter.

Economists believe the chances of such a scenario are high, given that there has been no let up in the pressure on consumers and businesses and snow disruption threatens to cost the economy an estimated 500 million a day.

There is no official definition of a triple dip, but it is widely accepted to mean that the economy has fallen into recession three times without returning to a period of robust growth in between.

The UK plunged into a double-dip recession last year, contracting for three quarters in a row before bouncing back with growth of 0.9% in the three months to September.

According to the Office for National Statistics, there has not been a triple-dip recession since its records began in 1955, with Britain last suffering such economic gloom in the Great Depression.

But the UK did experience some shaky economic times in the 1970s, when the economy came very close to a triple-dip recession, slipping in and out of negative territory.

Largely caused by the 1973 oil crisis, the UK was in recession for two years in the mid 1970s and it took 14 quarters for GDP to recover to levels seen before the start of the recession - during which time it slipped into a double-dip recession and nearly a triple.

Britons also faced eye-watering stagflation in the 70s, when negative GDP combined with high inflation.

Inflation peaked at more than 20% during that recession, putting today's above-target UK inflation of 2.7% in perspective.

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