A different perspective on triple-dip numbers

As I woke up on Friday morning, everything was just as I’d left it. I got dressed, my breakfast was waiting for me, the car was in the garage and I went to work. And, guess what, Pimlico Plumbers was still the biggest independent plumbing and home services company in the UK. 

In short, nothing has changed since Thursday night and I haven’t been doing anything different since, just because the economy apparently shrunk by 0.3 per cent in the last three months of 2012, as compared to the previous quarter.

And, as I wrote in my column last week, I would suggest that others do the same – unless they know they weren’t trying as hard as they could.

We need to be optimistic and positive. Letting a bunch of artificially manufactured, manicured and basically rear-view mirror numbers get inside our heads isn’t the answer.

To prove how little these figures really matter, see if you can find the actual figure in Pound Sterling, rather than the statistical percentages our economist friends love so much.

For the record, the seasonally-adjusted totals for 2012 were:

  • Q1: £359,520bn;
  • Q2: £358,184bn;
  • Q3: £361,568bn; and
  • Q4: £360,483bn.
So, we’re half way back into recession according to the rules, are we?

But don’t worry; don’t let the figures and the made-up rules get you spooked!

It is worth noting that the economy has grown by roughly 0.5 per cent a year since the coalition came to power. And for those who lay the blame for the lack of growth squarely at the door of the chancellor’s austerity measures, it has been suggested that without those measures, the economy would have only grown by a little bit more, around 0.75 per cent.

Given that we were facing financial meltdown, I think that this was a minor cut in growth that was worth living with.

If the figures can’t help but spook you, let me change your perspective. If we stop using quarters and instead go to half years, then the second half of 2012 was £4bn, or 0.6 per cent up on the first half.

The point here is that the numbers have nothing to do with anything, and what’s needed is for all of us to take some advice from a much loved Pimlico customer, the late Michael Winner, and “calm down, dear!” Get on with making a quid in the last few days of January 2013, and, this Friday, we can start making some money in February.

Yes, we need to be optimistic and positive. And if I haven’t managed to improve your mood with my own economic accounting system, check your trousers; there’s probably a fiver in the pocket – that always cheers me up!

Charlie Mullins is founder and CEO of Pimlico Plumbers.

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