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Expert: Economy still in danger
August, 10th 2009

The struggling UK economy is still in danger of slipping into a Japan-style "lost decade", a former Bank of England rate-setter has said.

The warning from Sushil Wadhwani, a former member of the Monetary Policy Committee, comes ahead of the Bank's latest economic forecasts on Wednesday.

These are expected to show worsening UK growth prospects and a lingering threat of long-term deflation - falling prices - after the Bank elected to pump an extra 50 billion into the economy in a surprise move.

Despite tentative signs of recovery, Mr Wadhwani told the Daily Telegraph the economy could dip down again next year after a brief bounce - following a similar pattern to Japan in the early 1990s.

"People think things will then return to normal - but these bounces are driven by temporary factors - for instance, destocking turning to restocking, or factors like that you go only so long without replacing your car, or by the VAT stimulus."

He added: "The second half of 2010 could be more difficult for the UK than 2009.

"There will be a big fiscal tightening, the VAT tax cut will have gone, and the world as a whole will be slowing at that point.

"You will have several things coming together which will dampen the economy."

Rate-setters are desperate to avoid the UK sliding into the kind of deflationary spiral which left Japan's economy in the doldrums for a decade.

In the UK, Retail Prices Index inflation is currently negative, although this should be temporary due to falling house prices and mortgage interest payments.

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