Editor’s blog: We’re balancing on a knife-edge

We could be heading for the dreaded double-dip. Didn’t someone warn us this would happen?

It’s not seemly to be melodramatic or alarmist but it feels like we’re on a bit of a knife edge at the moment. With the dog days of August soon to be upon us, on the one side of the blade is a slow but rather anaemic recovery but on the other is a slide back down into a second hollow of recession. With such miserable, non-stop talk of cuts and austerity in the air, it’s hard to accentuate the positive at the moment. Today’s second quarter GDP figures look encouraging on the face of it, but there’s a nagging voice at the back of my mind telling me it’s only be a blip rather the start of a long-term upward trend.

Old Bernie Bernanke Bernanke doesn’t help much when he tells a congressional committee that the US economy was ‘unusually uncertain’ at the moment. It is: the numbers from the US in recent weeks have been disappointing. The bounce over the other side of the pond may still be that of the dead feline.

There seems to be far too much grim news about. The Telegraph which has been the lead doom-sayer of this whole economic slowdown (with its Jeremiah-in-chief Ambrose Evans-Pritchard yelling like some mad monk week-in, week-out) has got a pretty gloomy piece recently about the commercial property sector by Jeremy Warner.

And Warner knows his onions. He cites a recent De Montfort University study which claims there are £300 billion worth of banking loans outstanding to the UK commercial property market of which around £50 billion are in breach of covenant. There has during this property cycle been a peak to trough fall of no less than 44% and some of those loans are now going to be called in and the blood will flow. Yikes, as they used to say in Scooby Doo.

I know commercial property isn’t the same kettle of fish as domestic bricks and mortar but weren’t we supposed to need a proper correction in property prices to get us back into sensible health again? As MT noted with alarm here, we couldn’t go on as we were spending on property.

Anyway, talking of property… we’re off to our new office in the burbs over the weekend. After 15 years in Hammersmith enough is enough, and we’re packing the crates for Teddington to join our chums on such fun magazines as Stuff, 442 and Gramophone. Even Dr Johnson would have tired eventually of London W6: the Hammersmith roundabout and flyover never get any more charming; the meaty waft from West Cornwall Pasties in the precinct no more alluring; and the Habitat and Books Etc have closed down. The lure of the giant Westfield means worse is to come. MT’s bright new future lies in going further West to find that crock at the end of the rainbow. God knows, we may be able to dominate the whole Thames Valley.