New UK coronavirus restrictions will test optimism over economic recovery | Larry Elliott


Some have reasons to be cheerful despite the gloom but flip-flopping in Whitehall is not helping growth

Records are there to be broken, so it would be unwise to claim that there will never be a worse performance by the US or eurozone economies than was seen in the spring of 2020. It would, though, take something truly spectacular: a nuclear war, a meteor strike, a pan-continental climate catastrophe or a more severe pandemic than Covid-19.

It is worth reflecting for a moment on just how dire the recent economic news has been. The UK is a bit behind the US and the eurozone and does not report its second-quarter growth figures until 12 August but it is already known that the economy contracted by about 25% in only two months – March and April. Even with a pick-up in activity in May and June, activity was probably still about 15% below its pre-crisis level at the start of the third quarter.

Governments, even rightwing governments, have been forced into wartime-like levels of intervention

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