UK economy booms in second quarter – is it too good to last?

Almost certainly it is as growth of 1.1 per cent between April and June, the highest since 1999, would indicate an annual growth rate of 4.4 per cent, way ahead of even the most optimistic forecasts and one which would have the Bank of England ratcheting up interest rates to cool the economy as if all the nation’s horses had bolted at once.

The main engine for this startling growth was the business services sector, which includes advertising, marketing and media of course. So these figures from the Office of National Statistics, never the most reliable body, appear to vindicate separate recent forecasts from ZenithOptimedia and WPP which revised forecasts for UK ad growth sharply upwards recently.

Predictably Labour and the Tories are arguing over who should take the credit. Coalition chancellor George Osborne, who’s currently taking his shears to public expenditure, says the figures vindicate his policy (they could hardly be a vindication of his actions as he didn’t move into his job until June) as the private sector accounted for nearly all the growth.

Former Labour chancellor Alistair Darling says, rather more credibly, that they justify his policy of postponing big cuts to expenditure until the recovery is established.

Well George’s cuts are coming with a vengeance now so it will be interesting to see what has happened to the growth rate when the next lot are announced at the end of October.

If the growth rate is way down Osborne and his chums will have some hard questions to answer.

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About Stephen Foster

Stephen is a former editor of Marketing Week and London Evening Standard advertising columnist. He wrote City Republic for Brand Republic and is a partner in communications consultancy The Editorial Partnership.