Mon Dec 5th, 2005 at 02:05:11 PM EST
In a surprising move, the British chancellor Gordon Brown annouced he got it comepletely wrong: Compared to a preojected 3.5 percent of growth, Britain only generated a mere 1.75 percent.
The Guardian sums it up:
Gordon Brown today blamed a "tough year" for forcing him to admit economic growth was only half what he predicted in March's budget - putting revised estimates in his pre-budget report down to rising oil prices and a flat housing market.
The chancellor scaled back the prediction he made in March for UK economic growth this year from between 3% and 3.5% to just 1.75%, calling 2005 "the toughest and most challenging year for the economy"
Meanwhile Mr Brown's predicted deficit for 2005 - the "black hole" - was, at £10bn, nearly double the £5.7bn he forecast in March.
Sounds pretty much continental European, doesn't it?
Here is some comment.
From THe Guardian:
These are the best of times and the worst of times for Gordon Brown. On the one hand, he is now all but universally accepted by his party and fellow Labour MPs as a prime minister-in-waiting. His pre-budget report this afternoon was received as such - not merely a chancellor's speech but a statement of prime ministerial intent.
But these are also treacherous times for Brown. The economic outlook is glum, forcing the chancellor to revise his forecast of annual growth for the second time in four months - now down from 3.5% to a pessimistic 1.75%. Today he was forced to admit that borrowing will be up, while some spending will have to be "capped". What's more, just as the numbers are turning against him, so is the domestic politics: now, after eight years waving aside his Conservative shadows, Brown faces a rejuvenated opposition, with George Osborne's spirited attack on him today a taste of the punishment to come.
And the FT's Robert Shrimsley:
ordon Brown has a golden rule: never apologise.
Sometimes however, the scale of the error is just so obvious that a chap has to stick out his chin and come before you in all his naked humanity and admit that, yes, he's made a mistake. There is much advice on how to make a virtue of this. The carefully calibrated acknowledgement of one's fallibility can go down terribly well if performed deftly. The public warms to someone who is big enough to admit he is not perfect. Monday was that day for Gordon Brown, and so the chancellor strode manfully into the Commons chamber and did...no such thing.