Thursday, 8 May 2008
Steady as she goes
UK plc is still afloat. It may have a passing resemblance to one of those rusting hulks found up our industrial waterways but no, our flexible labour market, the brilliance of our political masters and the gurus at the MPC of the Bank of England have combined to ensure that the ship does not take on too much water and slip below the heavy sea following the credit crunch. But are they right or, as is often the case, the statistics lag the real economy? A casual glance at the high street, and a chat with the owener of the local Indian restaurant suggests that not all is calm out there. Business is down, marginal retailers are going to the wall and new business is hard to find. Another sure sign is the increase in interest in postgraduate management courses. Young managers around the country are investing in education - there is a sense of real concern out there and more managers are deciding that the best hedge against prolonged unemployment is an MBA or similar. All in all, my informal lines of contact into the real economy suggests that 1.8% GDP growth this year may be revised down and a rather chilly autumn and bare Christmas awaits. We must wait and see.