If Bank of England Governor Mervyn King is to be believed, we are not yet halfway through the financial downturn which had its origins in the American sub-mortgage crisis nearly five long summers ago.
The Governor goes on to suggest that the economic landscape has deteriorated still further in the last six weeks, causing the forecasts of early May to be ripped up.
The crisis, which has consumed so many column inches of newsprint and hours of broadcasting debate in the last few years, had its roots in debt.
Businesses and households were living beyond their means; the nation was in hock, Micawber-style, and heading for the poorhouse.
The banking catastrophe of October 2008 saw the financial world tilt on its axis. The dramatic fall of Fred Goodwin, a sharp-suited chancer who helped bring his employer to its knees, provided a suitable morality tale for our times.
But a new mood of reality is taking hold. Our political leaders have belatedly recognised that the UK economy was wildly out of kilter. Financial services were all well and good but we also needed a strong manufacturing base to create genuine wealth.
The post-war decades of grimy factories employing tens of thousands of workers are today as distant a memory as England’s World Cup win of 1966. But manufacturing remains key to the health of the nation, and there’s a mood of optimism which does not necessarily reflect Mervyn King’s latest Eeyore-style musings.
The Jaguar Land Rover success story speaks for itself. In the Black Country, JLR’s example is being followed by dozens of small manufacturers with their sights set on lucrative export markets. One, Lye-based engineers Glassworks Hounsell, which relies on exports for 85 per cent of its turnover, recently spent around £200,000 on new machinery to increase capacity.
But it cannot recruit engineers, blaming lack of recruits on an educational mindset which has favoured law over engineering.
That approach has failed. A new manufacturing-friendly mindset might just help to dispel Mervyn King’s worst fears.