There is so much chaff in economic data and opinion these days, it is difficult to know what to think.
First we were told that the UK economy barely limped out of recession in the final quarter of 2009. 0.1% growth in GDP made for an annualised rate of growth of 0.4%. With such weak growth concerns over double dip recessions abounded. Then a textbook based spat between rival groups of economists took place in the national press. Cut government spending or risk a debt crisis, versus keeping spending or risk a continuation of the current economic crisis. The CBI launched into the debate with higher than expected retail figures for the early part of the year, Yippee! Quickly followed by the Office for National Statistics, ONS, releasing data that showed investment spending had collapsed, boo! Today the biggest smoke bomb was let off, with the ONS revising its initial estimate of GDP up to 0.3%, or a compound annualised growth of 1.2%. Welcome to Confused.co.uk!
Unfortunately, there is no online comparison search site, which can help you make sense of the competing economic data. And with economists taking varied and opposing views on the best direction for policy, what can you do?
My best advice is not economic. It instead draws on a discussion with a doctor from A&E. “This must be a challenging job” I ventured. “Not really, pretty easy to tell if someone is critically ill or not. A few vital signs, pulse, breathing, consciousness.” He replied.
You see, experience, pragmatism and the plain obvious are what matter. As a business person you probably have these in spades. Listen to your customers and suppliers, examine your finances, check your revenues and costs and listen to what your employees are telling you. And follow economic data at your peril.