In an interview with yesterday’s Observer, Cable predicted that the country faces a "long hard slog" towards recovery, with no guarantee that the economy will be able to return to the growth rates of the past.
When asked if the economy could enter into a third bout of recession, he told the newspaper: "Well, there is certainly a risk. I always try not to get drawn into forecasting arguments [but] there clearly is a risk. The most likely outcome is that we continue bumping along the bottom."
Last week, chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement conceded that the UK economy will contract by 0.1% this year. However, he added that it will grow by 1.2% in 2013, by 2% in 2014 and steadily rise to 2.8% in 2017.
Cable, on the other hand, refused to rule of a “lost decade” for the UK, warning that the country could face many years of restrained growth or contraction similar to that experienced by Japan.
"There is a real worry about [that], a real risk of that," he warned.
The business secretary’s comments differ from recent pronouncements by Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the Treasury, asserting that the UK will not be hit by a triple dip recession.
Appearing on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, Alexander said: "We’re seeing continuing problems in the eurozone, but I’m happy to rest on the OBR’s forecast, which is a bounce-back from the Olympic boost we saw in the third quarter causing a small negative in the final quarter of this year, but then steady growth slowly starting to return next year and the year after that."