UK economy crumbles as lockdowns drag on

London’s normally bustling streets are deserted.

Such scenes are now familiar around the world.

Hard evidence of the economic impact is just becoming clear.

Thursday (April 23) saw the latest Composite Purchasing Managers’ Index hit an all-time low.

The flash number for April fell to an unprecedented 12.9.

That’s miles below the 50-point mark that indicates economic expansion.

It’s also way below even the most pessimistic analyst forecasts.

A Reuters poll of economists the same day predicts economic contraction of about 13% in the current quarter.

That would be the worst since records began after World War Two.

But some think even that’s understating it.

Bank of England interest-rate setter Jan Vlieghe said Thursday the downturn was faster and steeper than anything in the past century - or possibly several centuries.

It all puts the UK government under increasing pressure.

Ministers are struggling to explain the high death rates, limited testing, and shortages of protective kit.

Debt is also spiralling.

The UK will issue 222 billion dollars of bonds between May and July.

That’s more than it had planned for the whole year.

Few economists think a recovery will now be quick or easy.

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