A very British excuse
This time it was the royal wedding. When the economy shrank unexpectedly late last year, it was the bad weather. If Britain‚Äôs economy again struggles to generate growth in the current quarter, perhaps it will be blamed on the new series of ‚ÄėThe Apprentice‚Äô.
Britain‚Äôs economy grew 0.2 percent quarter-on-quarter between March and June, exactly in-line with the Reuters poll consensus. Perhaps the most interesting part of the GDP release statement was the Office for National Statistics‚Äô claim that without special factors, including the royal wedding, growth could have hit 0.7 percent.
That would have taken the GDP index at market prices back above 100 points ‚Äď its 2006 base level ‚Äď for the first time since the recession, but as it happened, it fell just short, at 99.8.
In a Reuters analysis last month explaining how economists have been much too optimistic about the strength of major Western economies, ex-Bank of England policymaker David Blanchflower pointed out a tendency for a sort of mental revisionism when it comes to GDP releases.
‚ÄúThis time around it‚Äôll be the royal wedding. Every single time, you‚Äôll say, ‚Äėoh, it‚Äôs because the bank holiday fell on a Thursday‚Äô or because the wind was blowing in the other direction,‚ÄĚ he said.
This time, the ONS pointed out a negative effect on GDP from both the extra holiday made for the royal wedding and the royal wedding itself.
Next year is Queen Elizabeth‚Äôs Diamond Jubilee, which will see the creation of another one-off bank holiday on June 5th, as well as a series of celebrations. Not to mention the Olympics. Perhaps economists might want to lop a few points off their prediction for GDP in Q2 2012 while we‚Äôre on the subject of excuses.