UK only just fell into second dip of the recession

Ben Southwood
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THE UK almost dodged dropping into a double-dip recession a year ago, the latest data revisions showed yesterday.

The economy only shrank 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2011 and in the first quarter of 2012, the new numbers showed, meaning that the double-dip was a hair’s breadth from never happening.

Previously the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had thought that GDP declined 0.3 per cent in the final quarter of 2011 alone.

And upward revisions for the whole of 2012 mean that the economy actually expanded 0.3 per cent over the year. Excluding the contracting oil and gas industries, it grew 0.5 per cent.

But the revised data left last year’s fourth quarter of 2012 decline of 0.3 per cent fully in place.

“Overall these figures are a reminder that while the UK position is not great, too much pessimism is unwise,” said David Tinsley at BNP Paribas.

“Given the headwinds from deleveraging, the underlying performance of parts of the economy wasn’t that bad in 2012 – particularly in services.” But this will not buoy chancellor George Osborne, who still does not seem to have achieved his goal of rebalancing the economy away from consumption and towards investment and exports.

Consumer spending rose 1.2 per cent across 2012, while exports fell 0.2 per cent over the year, including a 1.6 per cent crash in the fourth quarter. On the upside for the chancellor, investment grew 1.5 per cent over the year.

The worst hit sectors were industrial production – down 1.2 per cent – and construction – whose output plunged a full 8.1 per cent during 2012.