"I can't quite decide whether it was smoke or mirrors," said KBC Peel Hunt analyst Robin Hardy in summing up yesterday's Budget.

Most observers said the Chancellor's economic growth forecasts were chipper to say the least and when asked to pick out the positives, there was generally an uneasy silence at the other end of the phone.

So, first of all housing.

The good news was the £50bn mortgage backed security guarantee scheme, which will initially run to October.

The bad news is that the take-up is expected to be nowhere near £50bn.

Under the plan, banks can bundle up and sell off mortgage debt and a third of lending was funded in this way before the world economy was brought to its knees.

The cynical would argue it was similar "bundling up and selling" of mortgage debt that brought the world economy to its knees in the first place.

Charlie Campbell at Liberum Capital questioned the appetite to buy mortgage debt, even though it was underwritten by the government and the banks themselves appear to think take-up will be poor.

Hardy added: "There's about £240bn of government debt to be issued elsewhere and the terms may be more attractive."

And what of the £400m to kick start stalled housing projects?

The money will be spent on upfront infrastructure costs on mothballed sites. But aren't mothballed sites mothballed for a reason? The housebuilders don't want to commit to building anything they are not sure they can sell.

As Persimmon reminded us this morning in a trading update: "pricing and margins remain under pressure".

For the contractors there was even less to go on.

Capital spending as a proportion of GDP will halve from 2.6% to 1.25% by 2013/14.

But Kevin Cammack at Cenkos Securities said there was little to be gleaned from that.  "Any spending forecasts beyond next year's election are not worth the paper they're written on."

Within that nebulous forecast, there is even less clarity on how deep cuts may be from the school or hospital building programme.

Although you'd think any government would choose to leave a few potholes in the road rather than suffer the bad PR of an unbuilt hospital wing or academy.

For small businesses the top-up scheme for credit insurance will be a help provided companies can get it in the first place or it hasn't been slashed so far that government match-funding will be meaningless.

The tax deferral scheme whereby businesses can shelve tax payments and the ability to carry back losses against past profits  will stop some businesses going under. For now anyway.

And perhaps that's the plan - if unemployment hits 4m the government would be under even more pressure than it is already.

But that political goal could slow eventual recovery. The flipside of capitalism is that it will kill weak businesses. The government wanted unbridled capitalism on the way up but doesn't appear to on the way down.

As Hardy says: "The reason the recovery was so strong after the last recession in the mid 1990s is because a lot of inefficiency had been taken out of the economy."

As today's front page of The Sun said: "At least it's sunny".