ECO­NOM­ICS

The Observer - - COMMENT / LETTERS + EMAILS -

It’s not hard to spot when the last re­ces­sion be­came in­evitable. The col­lapse of Lehman Broth­ers in Septem­ber 2008 trig­gered global panic that had been brew­ing since the start of the fi­nan­cial cri­sis. But most re­ces­sions aren’t marked by a sin­gle event. That’s why it was fool­ish of the Trea­sury and other fore­cast­ers to pre­dict an im­medi- ate eco­nomic seizure if there were a vote for Brexit.

Yet, you don’t have to be a re­moaner to feel ner­vous as eco­nomic news trick­les in. Last week, we learned that Septem­ber sales of new cars fell for the first time in since 2011. The SMMT trade body blamed busi­ness and po­lit­i­cal un­cer­tainty, along with doubts about the fu­ture of diesel cars.

The con­struc­tion in­dus­try also con­tracted in Septem­ber for the first time since the Brexit vote. The Char­tered In­sti­tute of Pro­cure­ment & Sup­ply blamed “the Brexit blight of un­cer­tainty, freez­ing clients into in­de­ci­sion over new projects”. Sur­veys showed man­u­fac­tur­ing and ser­vices also slow­ing down. Taken to­gether, these are wor­ry­ing signs. With consumers stretched by debt and ris­ing prices, Stan­dard & Poor’s, the rat­ing agency, ques­tioned the econ­omy’s abil­ity to deal with an in­ter­est rate in­crease. There may be trou­ble ahead.

Sales of new cars fell in Septem­ber.

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