Osborne really couldn't be addressing the nation under worse auspices. Yesterday, the OECD released new data confirming that the UK is heading toward recession. The economy is set to shrink by 0.03% this quarter, it revealed. And there's no light at the end of the tunnel with a further 0.15% contraction forecast for the following three months.
Bank of England governor Sir Mervyn King, ever the bringer of ill tidings, also believes that growth will remain flat for the next six months - possibly beyond, if the eurozone crisis is not resolved (and let's face it, it probably won't be).
So, what can we expect from today's Budget? Well, in the last Budget back in March, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) cut its growth forecast for 2011 to 1.7% and its 2012 forecast to 2.5%. It will no doubt shave a few more points off these estimates; growth is likely to wither down to just 1%.