"Stay Indoors" Britons hold back GDP in 1st quarter
If it wasn’t for the dreadful winter weather earlier this year, the 1st quarter GDP figures released today could have been a whole lot better. Overall, GDP rose by a slightly disappointing 0.2%, revealing that the UK economic recovery is still a fragile one. While the manufacturing and finance sectors grew at rates above 0.5% in the first three months of 2010, activity in retail, restaurants and hotels actually shrank by 0.7%. That’s got to be the result of people staying indoors during the ghastly snow blizzards and generally freezing conditions last January. Take this weather factor out of the equation, and the second quarter GDP growth figure may look a lot better.
I reckon there is a recognition around the country that the economy is precariously poised, and this may explain why the idea of a hung parliament after May 6th isn’t worrying too many of the electorate. A hung parliament would mean consensus politics, and therefore no extreme policies one way or another that might upset the apple cart. “Steady as you go” appears to be the emerging message voters are transmitting to the politicians during this very different and exciting campaign. That may be a message that worries the leading parties in their quest for power, but I think it’s going to take something quite dramatic in the next two weeks to shift the current three way share of voting intentions as seen in all the polls.