The U.K. economy shrank in the first quarter as Britain slid into its first double-dip recession since the 1970s, forcing Prime Minister David Cameron to defend his spending cuts in Parliament.
Gross domestic product fell 0.2 percent from the fourth quarter of 2011, when it declined 0.3 percent, the Office for National Statistics said today in London. The median of 40 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey was for an increase of 0.1 percent. A technical recession is defined as two straight quarters of contraction.
As an anti-austerity backlash gains ground in Europe, Cameron described the data as "disappointing" and pledged to support growth without backtracking on the U.K.'s biggest fiscal squeeze since World War II. The Bank of England is in the final month of its latest round of economic stimulus and the drop in output comes as prospects dim in the euro region, Britain's biggest export market.
"This isn't supportive of the fiscal consolidation program, so the government is likely to be concerned about that," said Philip Rush, an economist at Nomura International in London. "The data were bad, and that supports the view that the Bank of England will do a final 25 billion pounds of quantitative easing in May."
Bank of England policy maker David Miles had signaled yesterday that today's result was possible, saying in an interview with Bloomberg News that a negative number "wouldn't be a great surprise."
David Fuller's view London and the South East of the country remain reasonably prosperous but it is much worse elsewhere. Overall, the UK economy remains mired in stagflation. The coalition government is not responsible for the massive deficit it inherited from Labour's rule under Gordon Brown. However, its energy policies have been unnecessarily costly, in my opinion, and its income tax policies have driven away wealth creators.
(See also my further comments on the UK in response to Email 2 below, and especially Martin Spring's view.)