17 Mar 2013

We're past the worst.. again

Since late 2008 there have been predictions that the worst is over, that there are "green shoots", or that the UK economy is recovering. The stories below come from searches of Google news of these and other phrases.

At any given time there are in fact a greater number of stories indicating a gloomy outlook. However in almost every month since the crisis began someone has predicted that 'the worst is over', or 'the recovery has begun.' 60 months and counting.

updated 26 March 2013.


  • 2008-11-18 (nebusiness) But there are some green shoots of optimism with manufacturers’ expectations of export orders for the next three months positive and exceeding August expectations.


  • 2009-01-14 (Sky News) Business Minister Baroness Vadera was asked on ITV's Lunchtime News when she believed the UK could expect to see "green shoots"... ""I am seeing a few green shoots but it's a little bit too early to say exactly how they'd grow."
  • 2009-03-27 (Evening Standard) Britain has been in a deeper recession than was first feared, official figures have revealed. But members of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee are today insisting the first green shoots of recovery may be about to sprout.
  • 2009-04-03 (Telegraph) Back in February, Mr Brown predicted April 2, when the G20 leaders met in London, would be the start of a "move towards recovery". However, while economists were excited that the data suggested things had stopped getting worse, no one was prepared to call an outright recovery.
  • 2009-04-17 (Mail Online) 'The worst of recession may be over', says Bank of England's newest recruit.
  • 2009-04-20 (Bloomberg) The CBI will today join the growing list of economists and business groups arguing that the UK recession is now bottoming out.
  • 2009-05-06 (Bloomberg) More 'Green Shoots' in Battered Britain
  • 2009-06-10 (BBC) The first monthly increase in manufacturing output since early 2008 has re-ignited the debate about the green shoots of recovery. Economists, even at the gloomier end of the spectrum, are dusting down and reworking previous forecasts.
  • 2009-06-11 (Evening Standard) The number of people signing up to new mortgages leapt in the spring, the latest signal that green shoots in the UK economy may be taking root
  • 2009-06-15 (BBC) The UK economy is stabilising but it will not be until early next year that a "slow and gradual" recovery will begin, business leaders have said.
  • 2009-06-29 (BBC) There are signs that the financial services sector is emerging from the worst of the downturn, a quarterly survey from the CBI suggests. The UK's finance services sector could be on a "gradual" road to recovery, said the survey by the business group.
  • 2009-07-08 (Telegraph) The International Monetary Fund (IMF) admitted on Wednesday that economic recovery in Britain would happen earlier than it previously thought.
  • 2009-07-23 (Bloomberg) -- U.K. retail sales jumped four times as much as economists forecast in June as signs of improvement in the economy and discounts encouraged shoppers to buy more food and clothing.
  • 2009-08-03 (BBC.) "We're past the worst of it on the manufacturing side, and we could even be getting back to growth by the third quarter of this year," said Jill Evans, co-portfolio manager, Alpine Dynamic Dividend Fund." 
  • 2009-08-05 (SkyNews) The UK economy is showing more signs of recovery as industrial production expands at its fastest rate for nearly two years.
  • 2009-09-10 (BBC) "If you look at survey data, you see the signs of green shoots, but if you look at hard numbers on the real economy, green shoots are much more difficult to see," said Graeme Leach, Chief Economist at the Institute of Directors business group.


  • 2010-03-08 (Bloomberg) -- Bank of England policy maker Kate Barker said she is optimistic that the U.K. economy is recovering and that it faces fewer threats than before.
  • 2010-04-07 (Reuters) - Britain's economy continued to recover in the first quarter of this year, a clutch of industry surveys showed on Wednesday, but concern about a public spending squeeze is making firms reluctant to invest.
  • 2010-05-25 (Vogue News) THE recession is over, so said Marks & Spencer executive chairman Sir Stuart Rose, as he presented the company's end of year results this morning.
  • 2010-07-23 (Telegraph) UK's 'startling' economic growth reignites austerity debate. The UK economy has confounded experts in the past three months by growing at almost double the rate predicted.
  • 2010-07-26 (FinFacts) UK fiscal tightening should not choke off the recovery.
  • 2010-09-28 (BelfastTelegraph) The UK economy is on the mend and "recovery is under way", according to a report by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • 2010-10-26 (Telegraph) George's Osborne's economic recovery plan for Britain gets double boost. Britain has scored a welcome double boost from strong economic data and a credit rating upgrade that will add to hopes the recovery is gathering momentum.
  • 2010-12-06 (Scotsman) Manufacturing output rose to its highest level for seven months in October, official data yesterday revealed, suggesting the UK's economic recovery remains on track in the final quarter of the year. 


  • 2011-01-04 (Sky) Hopes of an export-led economic recovery have been bolstered by the latest survey of activity in the manufacturing sector. Rob Dobson, senior economist at Markit and author of the survey, believes it was a "spectacular" performance.
  • 2011-03-15 (Sharecast) “We have delivered further strong organic growth of 6.6% in New Markets, which now account for 29% of revenue and 33% of profits, and we are encouraged by signs of economic recovery in our larger developed markets of the US and the UK,” [G4S chief executive Nick Buckles] added.
  • 2011-06-07 (Mortgage rates) IMF on UK Economic Policy. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has issued a report on the state of the nations economic policies and reforms. The report has suggested no changes are needed to the UK policy on economic recovery and growth, a compliment that the government is only too happy to welcome.
  • 2011-06-15 (Reuters) - Britain's economy is slowly on the mend but faces substantial global headwinds, as well as weak credit growth and a crippled financial sector at home, finance minister George Osborne will say on Wednesday.
  • 2011-07-07 (BBC) UK manufacturing output rebounds in May. "Manufacturing is not as structurally soft as some people had feared," said David Page at Lloyds. "We think it will continue to be the cornerstone for an economic recovery over the next few quarters."
  • 2011-10-05 (My Finances) Service sector growth bodes well for economic recovery.
  • 2011-11-02 (MailOnline) A glimmer of hope for he UK as economy grew 0.5% in the past three months. "'This is a positive step forward,' said Mr Osborne."


  • 2012-03-02 (Guardian) UK construction growth bolsters economic recovery hopes. Construction PMI survey shows sector growing at fastest pace in 12 months, boosting hopes the economy has returned to growth after a 0.2% contraction at the end of last year.
  • 2012-03-13 (Huffington Post) UK Recession: 'Positive Shift' In Economic Activity as Jobs Market 'Turns Corner'. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said its composite leading indicators, a survey designed to anticipate turning points in the economic cycle, had signified stronger but tentative signals of improvement.
  • 2012-03-19 (BBC) Mark Prisk on economic recovery outside London. Business and Enterprise Minister Mark Prisk rejected claims that growth had been patchy across the UK and said there were positive signs outside London.
  • 2012-04-02 (UK Net Guide) Despite the gloom, signs of recovery are tentatively appearing: the UK was recently judged to have the largest proportional online economy in the G20 - responsible for 8.3% of GPD - and jobs in the high-tech and online sectors are simultaneously increasing at a relatively rapid rate.
  • 2012-04-04 (Investors Chronicle) Hopes of an economic recovery increased this week, as two surveys pointed to brighter business conditions.
  • 2012-04-30 (Deadline) Rich list hints at an economic recovery. Journalist Philip Beresford, who is in charge of compiling the Rich List, said that the appearance of these individuals shows evidence of “a revival of British manufacturing shown by the rise of industrialists and high-tech tycoons” and believes this could signal the beginning of an economic recovery for Britain
  • 2012-05-09 (ilm) Despite the gloomy economic outlook caused by the UK's slip into a double dip recession, 60% of bosses believe their organisation will grow its output over the next year with almost a fifth (19%) expecting it to grow significantly, according to research published today (Wednesday 9 May) by the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM).
  • 2012-07-23 (Telegraph) Britain Unleashed: Truth and courage can power an economic recovery
    Remind ourselves of some basic principles and we can rebuild our faith in business enterprise
  • 2012-09-13 (The Sun) Whisper it quietly – there are green shhhoots for economic recovery. "Ross Walker, chief economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland, said: “I think we are through the worst, in the sense that I don’t think the economy is shrinking. I think growth has resumed."
  • 2012-09-16 (Independent) UK's economic recovery has begun, says Sir John Major.
  • 2012-09-20 (BBC) Sir Mervyn King says economic recovery on its way.
  • 2012-09-28. (Touch Stone Blog) Celebrating the 'Economic Recovery' covers various headlines.
  • 2012-10-25. (mni news) BOE Bean: UK Past The Worst; Growth To Pick Up.
  • 2012-10-30 (This is Money) Retail revival adds to optimism on UK economic recovery as High Street sales pick up
  • 2012-11-12 (Telegraph) UK recovery gathering steam, OECD says. The recovery in the UK is gathering steam despite recent signs of economic weakness, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development.
  • 2012-12-14 (This is Money) Builders lay foundations of economic recovery with unexpected surge in business [financial website of the year]


  • 2013-02-13 (Microsoft Business) Economic recovery on the way say CBI. "Organic growth is beginning to return to the UK economy, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has claimed. The business organisation says modest gross domestic product (GDP) growth is expected in 2013, with the pace picking up in 2014."
  • 2013-02-14 (Scotsman) BANK of England Governor Sir Mervyn King yesterday insisted a “recovery is in sight”, but warned the path ahead for the UK economy will not be smooth.
  • 2013-03-04 (Sky News & elsewhere) Economic Recovery 'In Sight', Says Mervyn King. Mervyn King says there is momentum behind an economic recovery coming to the UK after at least two recessions in five years.
  • 2013-03-26 (Telegraph) George Osborne, confidence returning, tells Tory doubters: no shock therapy for the UK economy. James Kirkup
  • 2013-05-01 (Guardian) UK manufacturing shows signs of recovery – but firms remain cautious. Strong export sales help UK manufacturing sector stabilise after slump earlier in year, Cips/Markit survey shows
  • 2013-05-01 (journalism.co.uk) High-income earners bet on the housing market’s recovery: Leicestershire estate agency. Britain’s housing market is poised to return to pre-crash levels according to Ernst and Young ITEM Club and the Telegraph. Rising prices on real estate throughout the country is benefiting the economic recovery.
  • 2013-05-01 (Telegraph) Factories boost for recovery hopes. Britain's factories almost stabilised in April after months of contraction, sending the pound higher on hopes that the recovery is bedding in.
  • 2013-05-03 (Express & Star) Hopes of sustained recovery boosted. The UK services sector leapt ahead again in April, figures showed, driving forward growth for the wider economy and boosting hopes of a sustained recovery.
  • 2013-05-06 (Telegraph) Ignore the IMF naysayers, Britain is on the slow road to recovery. Jeremy Warner (Strong growth in the Markit/CIPS purchasing managers' index for April)
  • 2013-05-06 (GrantThorton) Economic recovery continues to strengthen in 2013.
  • 2013-05-07 (MoneyMarketUK) UK economy to grow by 1.5% in 2014 (NIESR prediction)
  • 2013-05-10 (Telegraph) UK recovery gathering momentum after 'stunning' rise in manufacturing.
  • 2013-05-10 (London Evening Standard) UK on road to recovery, says Chancellor George Osborne.
  • 2013-05-10 (FT - Paywalled) Better UK economic data – but risks remain. Chris Giles and Claire Jones.
  • 2013-05-10 (MyFinances) NIESR predicts UK GDP growth accelerating in April
  • 2013-05-11 (WalesOnline) Some grounds for optimism that the UK economy is on the road to a sustained recovery. A raft of economic data shows that the UK economy could be entering a sustained recovery period says Professor Dylan Jones-Evans.
  • 2013-05-13 (Telegraph) CBI adds to optimism over UK economic recovery. The CBI has added to mounting optimism over the recovery of the British economy, forecasting a gradual pick-up in growth this year and next. Emily Gosden.


What many of these 'the worst is over' stories illustrate is that public commentators see nothing very special about the recession which began 2008. There seems to have been an assumption that as in other recessions since 1973 we would bounce back after a little while and return to trend growth. 5 years later and there is no sign of a return to growth in the UK.

And in reality?

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