In a surprising twist, the UK’s economic recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic appears to have been stronger than previously thought, according to recent revisions to growth data from the UK’s statistics office. These changes indicate that the UK regained its pre-pandemic output by the end of 2021, challenging the widely held belief that the nation has been lagging behind the Group of Seven countries in terms of recovery from the pandemic-induced lockdowns.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS), responsible for these revisions, attributes the alterations to the availability of richer data from surveys and improved measures of business costs, including a more detailed inflation adjustment. The substantial revisions to 2020 and 2021 data were necessitated by the challenges of data collection during the Covid-19 pandemic, says the ONS. Investors who have been wary of the UK’s economic prospects may now want to reconsider their stance.
U.K. Economic Growth Data Revised: Implications for Investors
Revised Data Paints A Brighter Picture
In a startling revelation, the U.K. statistics office has published significant revisions to its growth data, indicating that the U.K. economy recouped its pre-pandemic output by the end of 2021. This contradicts previous assessments which placed the U.K. economy below pre-pandemic levels. The news challenges the prevailing narrative that the U.K. has been a slower performer among the Group of Seven nations in its recovery from the Covid-19 induced lockdowns.
Understanding The Revisions
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) attributes the revisions to the availability of richer data from its surveys and an enhanced ability to measure businesses’ direct costs and adjust for inflation in greater detail. The changes were particularly pronounced for 2020 and 2021 as the pandemic made data collection more challenging during this period.
Impact on GDP Figures
The revised data, released on Friday, revealed that the gross domestic product (GDP) rose significantly more in 2021 than previously estimated, following a lesser than expected decline in 2020. By the end of 2021, GDP was 0.1% higher than at the end of 2019, contrasting with the earlier assumption of a 0.9% decrease.
Persisting Weakness and Investor Sentiment
While the revisions have shed new light on the U.K.’s economic resilience, they do not alter the current economic situation. The U.K. economy has experienced relatively weak growth since the start of 2022, with worsening inflation and higher interest rates. However, investors who might have overlooked the U.K. due to its past performance may want to reconsider their stance. The FTSE 100 Index, a benchmark of blue-chip companies, has only gained 0.5% this year, compared to a 5.1% advance for the Dow Jones Industrial Average and an 18% increase in the S&P 500.
The revised data underscores the importance of having accurate and updated information in assessing an economy’s performance. While the U.K. may have been seen as lagging in its recovery, the new figures suggest that it performed better than initially thought. This could potentially attract renewed investor interest, especially given the underperformance of the FTSE 100 Index. However, current economic challenges, such as weak growth and rising inflation, must also be taken into consideration.