10:31am

Wed April 25, 2012
The Two-Way

U.K. Back In Recession, After First Quarter Contraction

After its economy shrunk by 0.2 percent in the first three months of the year, Britain was officially dragged backed into recession. As the AP reports, " two consecutive quarters of negative growth are required for a country to be officially deemed to be in recession."

What does this mean? It depends on which economist you talk to.

The Guardian rounded up a few opinions and some economists said the official data is tempered by the fact that other figures like business surveys point to a quickening economy.

Marcus Bullus, a trading director at MB Capital, was more pessimistic in his assessment saying this is just high inflation and a struggling eurozone catching up with the British economy.

"The light at the end of the tunnel was a train," is how Bullus put for The Guardian.

Bloomberg reports that this is the first time the U.K. has faced a double dip recession since the 1970s. The numbers, the wire service reports, is bound to spark debate about how deep austerity cuts should go.

All of that said, in its live blog, The Guardian notes that markets have taken the news in stride.

"The FTSE 100 is the laggard across Europe, which is perhaps not surprising given the GDP figure showing a second quarter of decline," The Guardian reports. "It is up just 0.16% at 5718.89. Germany's Dax, by contrast, is 1.8% higher while France's Cac has climbed 2.06%. Spain's Ibex is 1.7% better and Italy's FTSE MIB up 2.91%."

The paper credits the reaction — or non-reaction — to the positive news out of the U.S., specifically Apple's better-than-expected earnings report and positive buzz about the upcoming announcement from the Federal Reserve.

Update at 12:29 p.m. ET. Office for National Statistics Defends Figures:

Reuters reports that the ONS' chief economist Joe Grice defended their numbers:

"'We have no reason to suspect that these figures are any less reliable than would usually be the case,' he told reporters at a news conference in central London.

"'We have a very large set of respondents to base our results on - 40,000 for the economy as a whole and for construction alone I think it's about 8,000,' he said. 'We go through our returns carefully, we go back to respondents and if anything looks odd, we question it, sometimes several times.'"

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