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"OVER the past 170 years, this newspaper has tracked the British economy through some devastating shocks. The global slump of 1857 wiped out banks and chilled demand for exports. The 1930s Depression hit the country hard. Two world wars destroyed homes and infrastructure.
"Yet five years after each of these events the economy was growing. Not so this time.
"Britain is barely bumping along. The Bank of England reckons output, which peaked at £1.5 trillion ($3 trillion) in 2007, will not reach that level in real terms until 2015. With an ill wind the country could easily lose a decade. Meagre wages and stubborn inflation are eroding spending power. The pound is falling, yet the balance of trade is dismal.
"Pessimism is calcifying: 12% of Britons expect their household finances to improve next year, and 52% think they will worsen."