Amid Dunkirk spirit, economic and political separation from the EU, the continuous torrent of a global virus and Frankie Lampard, Chelsea's own 'Bambi', being sacked by that nasty Russian billionaire, it is heart-warming to know we in Great Britain are still the best at something. Of all the leading G7 nations the UK stand out as having suffered the deepest and worst recession in 2020, our overall numbers being outstanding in contrast to many of the contenders for the title, some of whom clearly were not trying.
The IMF is reported to have said that the great economy of Britain is estimated to have shrunk 10 per cent in 2020, worse than the 9.8 per cent projection in October. Italy, who are normally really good at these things, and previously expected to have fared worst out of all the G7, slipped up at the end, and is now estimated to have shrunk by just 9.2 per cent. France, which had been forecast to be equal second worst with the UK, is thought to have contracted a meagre 9 per cent.
You have to go back to 1709 to find a run vaguely comparable with the UK's economic performance last year, which in itself is interesting, as it was in that very year that Europe suffered its worst winter for 500 years and hundreds of thousands of French died in extreme cold conditions without a rogue nucleoprotein within a capsid comprised of matrix protein in sight. So, when your friend next wraps their man-made fibres close to them and shouts to you across a socially appropriate divide:
"I'm the coldest I have ever been. It has never been as cold as this ...", arch an eyebrow, roll an eye and quote them facts from 1709, 'Le Grand Hiver', when people ice-skated on the canals of Venice, church bells broke when rung, and travellers could cross the Baltic Sea on horseback.
The IMF had a busy day yesterday (Monday 25 January); it raised its global growth forecast for 2020 by 0.9 percentage points to -3.5 per cent, and by 0.3 percentage points to 5.5 per cent for 2021, reflecting the roll-out of vaccines and the impact of further stimulus in the US and Japan. However, 2021 forecasts for the UK and all major eurozone economies were downgraded as economies were locked back down to contend with people insisting upon seeing their Gran over Christmas.
There is no real point us telling you the next series of facts, as they will be 'radically upgraded/downgraded to reflect previously unforeseen events', but ... someone with a wet finger and no sense of shame has said the UK is projected to grow 4.5 per cent in 2021, less than the 5.9 per cent forecast by a man claiming to be Elvis in October. Eurozone growth has been downgraded from 5.2 per cent to 4.2 per cent, because '2' is a lucky number in Portugal and it seemed like a good idea at the time.
Talking of 'the worst', the UK has become the first European country to officially record more than 100,000 Coronavirus deaths. There were 7,776 deaths registered in the UK in the week ending 15 January with the virus mentioned on the death certificate, bringing the total since the beginning of the pandemic to 103,602. The German media have been told off for saying that the Oxford-Astrazeneca vaccine does not work well in older people. The country's health ministry said that the claims appear to have been based on a basic misunderstanding of trial data. What they meant to say was that the claims appear to have been based upon a basic misunderstanding of telling the truth. They chose lies instead - and that's the opposite.