More bad news for Britain's beleaguered government: The country slid back into recession in the first quarter of this year, according to figures released today. The economy shrank for the second straight quarter, marking the first "double-dip" recession, in which GDP falls before output lost in the previous recession is recovered, since the mid-70s, Bloomberg reports. The British economy shrank 7.1% in the 2008-2009 recession and recovery since has been weak and fitful.
The new decline was caused by falling activity in the construction and industrial sectors and stagnation in the services sector. "The dip in activity is small but massively significant," notes Larry Elliot at the Guardian. "With the government up to its eyeballs in the phone-hacking scandal and with local elections looming, the timing could hardly have been worse for David Cameron." Spain has also plunged back into recession, while other major European countries have yet to report GDP data from the first quarter of this year.