They came so close, so tantalizingly close, to breaking new ground. But at the last moment, the U.K. snatched a kind of very, very small victory from the jaws of (history-making) defeat and avoided qualifying for the technical definition of a triple-dip recession.
They are undoubtedly popping the corks at No. 11 Downing Street, and barring any mention of the latest polling data.
During the first quarter of this year the country recorded an increase of three-tenths of a percent in gross domestic product, compared with the previous three-month period when it contracted by a similar amount, the Office for National Statistics said. Gross domestic product had been broadly flat over the last 18 months, the agency added….
Though the estimates paint a picture of a flat economy, they are slightly better than most analysts expected and will be a relief for the chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne.
“Today’s figures are an encouraging sign the economy is healing,” Mr. Osborne said in a statement. “Despite a tough economic backdrop, we are making progress.”
A triple-dip recession would have raised more questions about his austerity policies at a time when bad economic news has been piling up.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund raised doubts about the fast pace of Mr. Osborne’s deficit-reduction strategy and Fitch became the second credit rating agency to downgrade Britain from its prized triple-A status. Employment figures, which had been one of the rare spots of good news for Mr. Osborne, also turned sour, with a jump of 70,000 in joblessness in the three months to the end of February.
Britain Avoids Triple-Dip Recession [NYT]
U.K. Escapes Triple-Dip Recession With Growth of 0.3% [Bloomberg]