Outlook The sighs of relief from the Treasury could be heard echoing throughout Westminster, Whitehall, and beyond. No triple dip! GDP is growing again! The slight problem with this is that it's a bit like counting your winnings before your horse has cleared the final fence. Yesterday's provisional numbers, even if they were better than expectations, are still subject to revision because all the data is not yet in.
It is true that the under pressure the Chancellor, George Osborne, dodged a bullet – even if the figures were provisional, they come as a relief. But there are good reasons that some members of the Government were keen to stress caution yesterday. They don't want anyone getting too excited because they are well aware that the recovery, if it can truly be termed one, is very patchy. And there will almost certainly be future releases of GDP figures where we see the numbers underperforming expectations.
The elephant in the room is the world's economy, which is very much a work in progress. Yesterday there were some commentators who contrasted our situation – bumping along a bit above the bottom – with Spain's. That was because it released unemployment data which it is hard to characterise as anything other than dreadful. Spain is suffering levels of joblessness that would frighten the life out of policymakers here. They are well aware that this country simply couldn't sustain an army of 6 million unemployed without Her Majesty's Army on the streets to counter widespread social unrest.
But Spain is a problem for us too, and this country's economic difficulties will be with us until the problems of Spain, and its fellow debtors on the fringes of Europe, are properly dealt with
It is not just policymakers here that realise this, and wake up in the early hours thinking about the Spanish and their fellows on the fringes of the eurozone. It is giving their counterparts across the Atlantic, and, yes, even in the booming hubs of the Pacific rim, sleepless nights too. That is why the International Monetary Fund was calling for action to be taken on the Continent to boost growth and stave off economic stagnation, or something worse.
There isn't anything like a consensus on what should be done. But there is a consensus that something should be done. We live in an interconnected world, and that means Spain's problems are the world's problems, however much we'd like to pretend otherwise. Ain't globalisation grand.