I am frequently accused of being too gloomy, which is upsetting to a sensitive person who likes to see the sunny side of things.

My riposte is that while I might have appeared a bit glum when commenting on the numbers over recent months, in the gloom stakes reality overtook me some time ago.

Take a look at the comments collated by the Guardian following the release of the very worrying data showing a sharp drop in the level of output from the production industries.

The figures underline the shocking decay taking place within the UK economy.

It is clear that these figures have spooked economists.

And they increasingly support the view expressed by the Chancellor during his holiday break that the economic times we are facing "are arguably the worst they've been in 60 years".