Yesterday the main news was all about the fact that the UK’s obsession with borrowing seems to be at an end, or at least put very firmly on ice. The latest figures showed that for the first time since records began in 1993, debt repayments outstripped borrowing.
The Evening Standard called this an historic “Micawber Moment”, after the Dickens character in David Copperfield who “lectures on the benefits of financial prudence”.
This is actually a big deal. It shows that even though we may be over the very worst of the recession there are tough times to come, and we will not be able to simply spend our way out of it as the general public’s habits seem to be changing rapidly. A combination of sudden financial prudence in the average high street and a continued reticence by lenders to lend mean that for all the recent good news, there is still a sense of grim realism.
It is indeed a topsy-turvy time for the economy with some gloomy stories around after last week’s relatively cheery news. This bumpy rollercoaster ride towards eventual recovery is likely to be with us for a good part of 2010.
There are now two distinct parts of the market with the recession trickling down to effect the high street and the ordinary punter, whilst the top end of the market continues to poke its head gently above the clouds. This to me is a good sign, a sign that shows we are on course to come out of this in the not too distant future.
So whilst there are still hard times and clouds ahead for many, peppered by the occasional thunderstorm, the sun is at least trying to burn through.