The U.K. economy shrank more than economists forecast during the fourth quarter in the biggest contraction since 1980 as the financial crisis crippled the banking industry and mired Britain deeper in the recession.
Gross domestic product fell 1.5 percent from the previous quarter, the Office for National Statistics said in London today. Economists had predicted a 1.2 percent drop, according to a Bloomberg News survey. The economy has now shrunk in two quarters, the conventional definition of a recession.
The pound dropped against the dollar and U.K. stocks fell after the report. Prime Minister Gordon Brown said that the government is using “every weapon at our disposal” to fight the crisis. Bank of England Governor Mervyn King says officials may start buying up securities soon as interest rates lose their potency to aid the economy.
“This is undeniably grim,” said Stewart Robertson, an economist at Aviva Investors in London, which manages about $230 billion in assets. “Two or three quarters more like this and you’re talking about depression, not recession. This should hasten activity to address the credit and money market issues.”
Service industries shrank by 1 percent on the quarter, manufacturing dropped 4.6 percent and construction fell 1.1 percent, the statistics office said. Business services and finance, accounting for 30 percent of the economy, contracted 0.5 percent and also slipped into a recession.
North Sea oil and banking, and both businesses are in the toilet. Now the bankers are going to rescue them?