The gloomy economic news from the European Commission is that they expect European economies to shrink this year by 4 percent, which is twice what they forecast in January. UK Chancellor Darling has forecast our shrinkage at 3.5 percent this year, but many think even that over-optimistic.
This will mean more job losses across Britain and Europe; more school and university leavers will fail to get jobs; people will see their disposable incomes shrink and have to cut back. Generally it means leaner times and tighter belts. There will be fewer opportunities to do pleasant things.
It is as well to remember that there are people who welcome this. The anti-growth brigade think that we should be producing and consuming less, and that economic activity should shrink. In the name of the planet, the environment, or their own notion of what it takes to make people really happy, they welcome a recession because it forces us to a lower level of output, one that might be 'more sustainable,' or more conducive to a 'fulfilling lifestyle.'
It is not just those receiving their pink slips who should feel contempt for this attitude. Lower economic activity and reduced wealth mean fewer choices for all of us, and less opportunity for advancement. It means people being less able to do the things they want to do. It also means slower technological advance and innovation because of reduced investment, and less ability for us to solve our problems.
Ironically some of the fashionable causes beloved by anti-growthers are taking the hit. Locally grown and organic produce are luxuries people can afford in prosperity, but are less willing to pay for when times are harder.
Growth is good, as Gordon Gekko might have said. It generates the resources with which we can achieve our goals and solve our problems. There are few problems so big that they cannot be solved by throwing money at them. But in a recession the money is not there. Those who welcome the bleak forecasts about economic contraction might think about that.