The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales publishes a quarterly survey of business confidence, and the current report is the third in a row that makes rather depressing reading. Business confidence is, of course, down. In fact, it’s the lowest it’s been since the surveys started in early 2004.
The number-crunchers say that business confidence has sunk faster than the overall economy – which may just indicate the effect of a gloomy media, and the complete collapse of confidence in the financial sector. But however well the real economy is holding up, if people are too nervous to make investment decisions now, that can’t be a good sign for the future. The accountants are predicting very low economic growth for 2008 – though they think that preparations for the Olympics, interest rate cuts, and consumers dipping in to their savings will spare us a true recession.