Decca Aitkenhead's enjoyable interview with Vince Cable in today's Guardian includes this revealing exchange on the possibility of a double-dip recession:
The risk of a double-dip recession remains, he acknowledges, very real -- perhaps a little more so in his mind than the Treasury's. "As I recall," he says, "the government's own forecasting risk puts it at something like one in four, one in five." But asked for his own estimate, he says, "Well, you know, certainly well below 50-50," which sounds somewhat higher than one in five.
Like Nick Clegg's declaration that he had slept with "no more than 30" women, this is an answer that reveals far more than it intends to.
As Aitkenhead suggests, "well below 50-50" does sound rather higher than one in five. If we take into account that a cabinet minister quoted on the record is unlikely to suggest that a recession is probable, it's quite possible Cable thinks this is an underestimate.
It may be that he has studied the growing evidence of the risk of a double dip, long forecast by our economics columnist, David Blanchflower. Today's news that the recovery in the jobs market will stall this year is another sign of the trouble ahead.
To his credit, Kenneth Clarke has previously warned that a double-dip recession is "quite possible still" and that the coalition's cuts could damage growth. Let us hope that he and Cable are having words with George Osborne.