Underlining what many people felt, figures out today confirm that Britain is officially in recession for the first time since the early 1990s. UK gross domestic product fell by 1,5 percent in the final quarter of 2008, following a drop of 0,6 percent in the previous three months. That means the accepted definition of recession – two consecutive quarters of negative growth – has been met. Unemployment is accelerating, the housing market continues to fall, and high street sales remain weak. Economists say the outlook is grim.
The slump in trade, nationally and worldwide, can be seen by the number of ships lying idle in UK harbours. There is no business, so no point in putting to sea. “When there are no ships in the River Fal, then the world’s economy is doing well, because all the ships are out working,” said Falmouth harbour master, Captain Andy Brigden. “When the world’s economy is doing badly, there are more ships moored here, and that is exactly what has happened.” Thousands of unsold cars provide another graphic illustration of the UK’s stalling economy. Around the country workers are being laid off until the good times return. But 2009 is forecast to be one of the toughest years on record for the world economy.