James Moore: Not much to celebrate – even if we avoid ignominy of triple-dip recession

Outlook It's the end of the fiscal year and time to tot up exactly what the Government has to show, in terms of cutting Britain's budget deficit, for another year of austerity, public sector job cuts, pay freezes and non-existent economic growth.

The answer is not very much. During the last year the state borrowed £120.6bn, a reduction of just £300m on what it borrowed the previous year. At this rate of progress there won't just be an overspend in 2018 (the target for the deficit's elimination) there'll be one in 2118.

Public sector borrowing is flatlining and so is the economy. We'll get an update on the latter later this week and, even if the Chancellor, George Osborne, gets lucky and the Office for National Statistics says it has returned to growth (meaning we have avoided a triple dip recession), there surely won't be much to celebrate.

Disturbingly we may face another year of this. Maybe more.

Being a flatlining nation, it should be said, is better than being in Greece, or Cyprus, or in one of the other time bombs ticking quietly, for now, but still menacingly on Europe's fringes.

But it surely isn't a happy place to be. Perhaps there are heads other than the Chancellor's in Government that can see the problem. The austerity programme has left us with some pain, but zero gain when it comes to any real improvement in the public finances, and zero gain when it comes to a badly misfiring economy.

Lloyd Blankfein, the Goldman Sachs chief executive, was in town urging Mr Osborne to "stick to his guns" despite no less than the IMF calling the Chancellor's strategy into question.

Mr Blankfein warned that the markets will extract a price if he doesn't. Maybe so, but he's out of step with almost everyone else, after the research underpinning austerity was proven to be of dubious merit on account of the fatal misread of an Excel spreadsheet.

That's an easy enough mistake to make. We've all been there. But it's as well to correct it quickly if you find yourself in that unhappy situation.

That is what Bill Gross, the manager of the world's biggest bond fund, appears to have done as he is now questioning the merits of austerity having been a big part of the market Mr Blankfein was talking about.

Not so Mr Osborne and his chums. But perhaps they might like to meditate on this. Mr Blankfein doesn't have a vote in this country (thank goodness). Those who do probably aren't listening to the Goldman Sachs boss. But they might start to listen to Ed Milliband, even if they aren't exactly thrilled with the prospect of him as prime minister.

Mr Blankfein may be right, there may be a price to pay if Mr Osborne loosens the purse strings until the economy improves. But the price the electorate extracts will be a bigger one as far as this Government is concerned if he doesn't and it's still a flatlining nation that goes to the polls in a couple of years.

News
peoplePerformer had recently been diagnosed with prostate cancer
News
The surrealist comedian at the Q Awards in 2010
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Media baron Rupert Murdoch owns News Corps and 20th Century Fox
theatrePlaywright David Williamson is struggling to find a big name to star as the media mogul
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Six of the 76 Goats' cheese samples contained a significant amount of sheep's cheese
food + drink
News
i100
News
Russell Brand arriving for the book launch in East London
peopleRussell Brand cancels his book launch debate due to concerns about the make-up of the panel
Arts and Entertainment
JK Rowling will not be releasing a 'romance' novel anytime soon
books
Life and Style
tech

Of all the computers Apple has ever made there’s only one that Steve Jobs had to sell his car to finance

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfordshire - £350 - £360

£350 - £360 per day: Ashdown Group: SQL Developer with T-SQL, Watford, Hertfor...

IT Systems Business Analyst - Watford - £28k + bonus + benefits

£24000 - £28000 per annum + bonus & benefits: Ashdown Group: IT Business Syste...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: The SThree group is a world le...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant Birmingham

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Comission: SThree: The SThree group is a world lea...

Day In a Page

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster
Wildlife Photographer of the Year: Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize

Wildlife Photographer of the Year

Intimate image of resting lions claims top prize
Online petitions: Sign here to change the world

Want to change the world? Just sign here

The proliferation of online petitions allows us to register our protests at the touch of a button. But do they change anything?