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Where are we now? Still on the verge of a triple dip...

The economy could be on the verge of a triple dip. Photo:

After the embarrassment of losing our top credit rating and the Bank of England suggesting such radical action as negative interest rates to get the economy going, the Office for National Statistics shed some welcome light this morning on what is really happening with the economy.

They confirmed that between October and December last year, the economy shrank by 0.3%.

That is certainly not a big drop but does mean we are still potentially on the verge of a triple dip.

If the economy shrinks again between January and March then we would be in that unprecedented territory.

But there was a bit of good news from the number crunchers.

Having revised the numbers over time, the ONS now calculates that overall, the economy last year actually grew a touch.

It's only a marginal increase, but at least in the political debate it means that Labour will no longer be able to accuse the Coalition of presiding over an economy that did not grow at all in 2012.

While the Government might be able to take some comfort from that, detail in the numbers will give them cause for concern.

It is worth noting what grew and what did not at the end of the year.

Despite all the rhetoric about the squeeze on public cash, the figures show that spending by the Government was actually rising by 0.6% and industrial output was shrinking by 1.9%.

Business investment and exports also were on the way down.

Ministers' hopes were always that the private sector would drive the recovery.

Although unemployment has been reducing, there is not much evidence of that really happening.

The fundamental problems of the economy are a long way from being solved.