When it comes to economic news, the world is a gloomy place becoming gloomier by the day.

Take yesterday: it’s hard to know which was the gloomiest news. Was it the record lows for the preliminary monthly surveys of manufacturing and the key services sectors in Australia, Japan, Europe and Britain? Or was it another mind-numbing 4.4 million rise in first-time US jobless claims taking the total in five weeks to a staggering 26 million-plus?

The past week’s fall was sort of good news, being lower than the 5.2 million last week and more than 6.8 million the week before. The declining trend is a small mercy that can’t hide the fact that the 22 million jobs created in the long boom from the end of 2009 to February this year have been well and truly wiped out.