Belfast Telegraph

Britain is already in another recession, say experts

The Republic plans a return to global money markets this year and it doesn't look as if it is on course for a second bailout, the country's top finance and borrowing chiefs have claimed.

THE UK is likely to already be in recession, according to two highly regarded economic forecasters, as developments in the eurozone paralyse the country's recovery.

Ernst -amp; Young Item Club and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) both believe that gross domestic product (GDP) shrank in the final quarter of last year and will fall again in the first three months of 2012. A recession is two consecutive quarters of contracting output.

Both reports stated that the prospects for the economy in the UK are closely tied to the fate of the eurozone, which is hitting the export trade so crucial to the country's recovery.

The warnings come shortly after France, the second biggest economy in the eurozone, saw its AAA credit rating downgraded by Standard -amp; Poor's (S-amp;P) in a move which signals more troubles for the single currency bloc.

Professor Peter Spencer, chief economic adviser to the Ernst -amp; Young Item Club, said: "Figures for the last quarter of 2011 and the first quarter of this year are likely to show that we are back in recession and we are going to have to wait until this summer before there are any signs of improvement. But it's not going to be a repeat of 2009 - we are not going to see a serious double dip."

The Item Club report forecasts GDP growth of just 0.2% this year before increasing to 1.8% in 2013 and 2.8% in 2014.

The Item Club forecasts that unemployment will approach three million, representing 9.3% of the UK's labour force.

Prof Spencer added: "The only piece of good news for UK households is that inflation should fall back below 2% this year, as commodity prices weaken."

Meanwhile, Cebr revised down its forecast for growth for 2012 as a whole from 0.7% growth to a decline of 0.4% with a risk of a more serious decline of 1.1% if developments in the eurozone are worse than feared.

Cebr chief executive Douglas McWilliams said: "We take no pleasure in outlining such a bleak forecast. But the world is going through a fundamental change where previously poor economies are industrialising fast."