The Institute of Chartered Accountants (130,000 members strong) has just released its quarterly survey of business confidence, which makes predictably grim reading. Business confidence, it says has declined for the fourth quarter in a row. It is now at the lowest level since the survey began.
It may not amount to a recession, where the real economy shrinks over two or more quarters, but the bean-counters expect that the growth in turnover, profits and exports will all slow, and that fresh capital will be increasingly hard to obtain.
It's not just London's enormous financial sector that is feeling the pinch – though, even after the Bank of England's attempts to increase liquidity, that sector most assuredly is. No, the credit crunch seems to be spreading out, affecting confidence for the worse in all sectors of the UK economy. It's going to be a difficult year for businesses of all sizes, in all sectors, and in all regions, the survey concludes.