Chancellor Alistair Darling has said he is bullish about the prospects for the West Midlands manufacturing industry - despite his own forecast of a tough year ahead for the economy.
It came even as London's blue-chip share index suffered one of its worse beginnings to a year since it was launched 24 years ago.
The FTSE 100 Index has shed more than 577 points since the start of 2008 - a drop of 8.9 per cent on its opening mark of 6456.9. The fall represents the third-worst January on record for the top flight, which was founded in 1984.
Mr Darling, speaking on a visit to the region yesterday, said: "The manufacturing industry in the West Midlands is alive and well.
"But what we aren't doing is shouting about how good it is and promoting it as a good career."
His visit, coming on the day he unveiled March 12 as his maiden Budget, took in a range of manufacturing businesses beginning with a tour of Warwick University's International Manufacturing Centre.
He was given a demonstration of work carried out as part of the Premium Automotive Research and Development programme and its close links with Jaguar Land Rover.
His tour of the region also included visits to component suppliers Stadco, Radshape and Brandauer.
Afterwards he said projects such as those at Warwick University were important because they would supply a future skilled labour force - the subject of the Government's new skills strategy.
"The recurrent theme is that we have the jobs, we've got the prospects, but we need a good supply of skilled, motivated labour," he said.
"There are people coming into engineering but I think we need to shout about it to attract more into what is a growing industry."
He added that a strong economy was also important so that businesses could plan for the future with certainty.
However, he warned that this could be difficult in the year ahead because of the economic climate brought on by the credit crunch.
"I have said from the beginning of this year that because of what's happening in the United States there's going to be an inevitable slowdown," he said, adding that he had also downgraded his growth forecasts.
"The banking problems will work themselves through but that will take some time to complete.
"I think the thing that's encouraging is that this year the British economy is the fastest growing of the developed countries, there's a lot of momentum and so I'm comfortable that we can get through these difficulties."
He said he would outline his latest growth prospects when he stood up in the House on March 12 to deliver his maiden Budget.
"I deliberately reduced my forecasts for growth this year because it was quite obvious in October last year that things were slowing down.
"I will set out our latest forecasts at the Budget," he said.
Taxpayers may have to pay an extra £9 billion a year for the Government to meet its "golden rule" on borrowing, a leading economic think-tank warned.
The worsening state of the public finances means the extra burden is needed to prevent the Treasury breaching its rule of borrowing only to invest, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research said.
But with one eye on a possible General Election next spring then there may also be some surprises in store.
Mr Darling refused to give any clues about what might be on the agenda.
"It would be totally wrong for me to announce measures in advance - people will just have to wait," he said.
The volatile nature of the markets was in evidence again though until a late rally saw it close 42.5 points higher at 5879.8.
Earlier it had dropped nearly 150 points, or two per cent, as nervous investors braced themselves for further falls in New York.