Inflation rising, and more in the post

newspapers-444447_1280.jpgWe’re still well off letter-writing territory, but inflation saw a significant jump from 1.8% year-on-year in January to 2.3% last month. This is the highest rate of inflation since September 2013 and marks the arrival of the consumer price rises that the Ulster Bank NI PMI has been flagging for some months. The main driver is the acceleration in the price of consumer goods – everything from new cars to newspapers – where inflation was virtually non-existent just four months ago. Continue reading

Output growth eases again in February, but remains solid

pmi header

Today sees the release of February data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by Markit – signalled further solid growth of output during February, despite the rate of expansion easing further from the high seen at the end of last year. Both new orders and employment rose at sharper rates, with growth of each broadly in line with the UK average. Meanwhile, inflation of both input costs and output prices remained elevated. Continue reading

Budget 2017: Public finances remain no laughing matter

Chancellor Philip Hammond surprised those anticipating a boring Budget by littering his speech with jokes and gags. However, there were definitely none of the pyrotechnic policies that were prominent in the last Chancellor’s Budgets (e.g. the sugar levy), as the substance of ‘Spreadsheet Phil’s’ announcements lived up to his nickname. And, needless to say, the state of the public finances remain no laughing matter. Continue reading

NI Economy: The key facts

ni economy.pngWe’ve all heard the oft-used phrase ‘the economy is the number one priority’. However, there is perhaps still a deficit in terms of public understanding of economic issues.  People perhaps don’t realise how far Northern Ireland lags the rest of the UK in terms of GVA (and the gap has been widening) or how much more Northern Ireland receives in public spending. Continue reading

Housing recovery, but legacy of boom lives on

key-979593_1280.jpgAs we approach the 10th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s house price peak (and subsequent correction), we’ve been seeing some encouraging signs in the housing market across a range of indicators. Despite the ongoing recovery over the last few years, though, it is fair to say that this does not mean we are ‘recovered’.  Indeed, ‘a recovery’ in house prices / house building back to the freak peaks of 2006/2007 is neither expected nor viewed as desirable. Continue reading

Chart of the Month – 10 years since the property price peak

chart-of-the-month-mortgages

As we approach the 10th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s house price peak (and subsequent correction), we’ve been seeing some encouraging signs in the mortgage market.

2016 saw Northern Ireland notch up its fifth consecutive year of mortgage growth. According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) there were 13,800 loans advanced for house purchase. This represented a rise of over 5% year-on-year, with last year’s total representing the most mortgages advanced since 2007.

Despite a rise of 80 percent since 2008 though, mortgage volumes in Northern Ireland are still only half of what they were a decade ago.

The number of first-time buyers in Northern Ireland hit a 10-year high last year (8,000). However, this is still over 10,000 fewer than 2001’s peak.

The recovery in the mortgage market has been more marked within the First-Time Buyer (FTB) segment than the Home Mover market. The latter’s recovery has been somewhat disappointing.

In 2016, there were only 5,800 mortgages advanced in the Home Mover market; this was just 1/3rd of the volume of activity in 2006 and on a par with 1980/81. Lack of supply of certain property types and the legacy of negative equity are hampering this market.

House building is on the rise and people are gradually paying off their debt. But the legacy of what happened 10 years ago will continue to be felt for some time to come.