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Maybe we should take the economy seriously

Ok, enough is enough. Talking about double dip recessions has been well and good over the last few months but most economists and analysts saw it as a threat as to what could happen rather than an inevitability.

Not so anymore.

Yesterday, the International Monetary Fund, which is essentially in charge of making sure the world's financial system works and therefore carries a fair bit of clout, dropped a bit of a bombshell.

It said both the US and the eurozone risk falling back into recession unless the regions' policymakers get a grip. Worryingly, it said we are in "a dangerous place" and could be dragged down by debt, not just from the likes of the Republic and Greece, but also the US.

(I liken it to sharing a house with four others while at university. Whenever one of us managed to squeeze a bit extra on to the end of our overdrafts, the rest would lean on him or her for food and nights out. Just the essentials, obviously, but enough to drag a more solvent body down with the rest of us.)

Anyway, while it was at it, the IMF cut its growth forecast for the UK and gave a nudge to the Chancellor George Osborne. Remarkably, it told him to ease up on his harsh deficit reduction program, if the economy's limp worsened it was in danger of tumbling over into the muddy ground underfoot. Trying a little too hard with the old metaphors there but really, this time it's serious.

Meanwhile, to Italy (not literally you understand or else the tone of this missive would be more laidback).

In case you missed it, Italy's credit rating was downgraded by Standard and Poor's to a confusing A/A-1 from an equally confusing A+/A-1+. Without going in to the detail of S-amp;P's rating table, the less "+" signs are not a good indication.

"We believe the reduced pace of Italy's economic activity to date will make the government's revised fiscal targets difficult to achieve," S-amp;P said, sticking a knife in when the region is trying to rearrange its house.

You'd expect the Italian government to harrumph a little and put their tails between their legs but this is Italy, where passions run high and things like this aren't taken lying down.

Step forward prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a man not known for his meekness.

He said the move was "dictated more by newspaper stories than by reality".

Maybe so, Silvio, but having a go at the ratings agencies is a dangerous game to play. Or is it?

When the US got downgraded at the start of August they got their best people onto the numbers and found a gapping $2 trillion hole which S-amp;P had missed.

You see Silvio? The newspapers can sometimes help you.