How many ‘dips’ before a recession cycle becomes a depression structure? That is likely the question on Carney’s mind as he enters his role as top man at the BoE shortly.
As The Guardian reports, an unprecedented third slump in four years looms for the UK as shoppers stay at home and vital transport links grind to a halt amid paralyzing weather. As snow blankets much of the nation, it would appear the next round of central bank easing will be to print ‘sunshine’. A series of economic releases – including weak trade data, downbeat business surveys and dreary retail sales – have fueled concerns that official figures out this week will show that output fell in the final quarter of last year. Now analysts fear a cold snap in January could lead to another quarter of contraction in Q1. The snow, bitter cold and harsh easterly winds continue to cause widespread disruption to travel by air, road and rail. “Clearly, the longer that the snow and ice lasts, the greater will be the negative impact on the economy,” IHS’ Archer added, though we are sure we will hear of the ‘broken icicle fallacy’ soon enough.
As transport services ground to a halt, Britons were unable to get to shops and restaurants, companies shut down early, construction work was hit, and supply chains were disrupted. Howard Archer, chief European and UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said retailers would be particularly hard hit, as the weather disrupted Saturday’s shopping hours.
David Tinsley, UK economist at BNP Paribas, said: “The scary thing is that, as the snow falls in London and widespread disruption beckons, we could yet get a drop in first-quarter GDP as well. We would then be in triple-dip territory, albeit for erratic reasons.” With the Met Office forecasting snow in parts of the country well into next week, the economic hit could be serious. “Clearly, the longer that the snow and ice lasts, the greater will be the negative impact on the economy,” said Archer.
The snow, bitter cold and harsh easterly winds continued to cause widespread disruption to travel by air, road and rail on Saturday. Further problems are expected as a blanket of snow falls across the country on Sunday morning in London and the south-east and spreading north throughout the day.
At Heathrow furious passengers vowed to boycott British Airways, the airport and, in some cases, Britain itself.
Some roads, both motorways, major routes and minor roads remained impassable on Saturday. Darron Burness, the AA’s head of special operations, said: “With the snow compacting down and turning icy, we’re likely to see treacherous driving conditions throughout the weekend. Any fresh snow on top will just add to the problems.”