On the face of it, Northern Ireland has had a strong employment recovery. Indeed, last week we found out for the first time that Northern Ireland had surpassed its pre-downturn employment peak. This happened in the first quarter of 2016, and employment growth continued throughout last year.
In terms of the detail, we’ve seen a net gain of over 54,000 jobs during the last five years – that’s an increase of eight percent. Continue reading
“Give me a one-handed economist,” pleaded President Harry Truman, “all my economists say, ‘on the one hand, but on the other’.”
Three members of the Monetary Policy Committee voted last week to raise Bank Rate to 0.5%, a surprise to say the least. At 2.9%, inflation is above target and heading higher. Yet while employment continues to rise, wage growth is slowing, consumers are under pressure and there is enough uncertainty around to think that tightening monetary policy can wait for a while.
Why the change of tune? Some on the MPC have been surprised by the speed with which inflation has risen and they think that stronger demand from exports and investment spending will help keep growth going, even if the consumer side of the economy is feeling the squeeze. That argument wasn’t strong enough to convince any of the Bank officials to vote for a rise and one of those who voted for a hike has now left the committee. With two vacancies to be filled the MPC’s voting position could be a lot more finely balanced than we’ve been used to.
While the media headlines continue to focus on the ongoing political turbulence, today’s inflation figures signal that the headwinds facing the consumer are intensifying. Continue reading
The latest PMI highlights some noteworthy trends on the local, national and global economy from March 2017. This slide pack explores them in more detail.
Key highlights include: Continue reading
The clear winner of last week’s election was YouGov, the polling company that got the result just about right. For the rest of us, uncertainty looms. While it’s commonplace to say uncertainty is bad for the economy – and it is – we can read too much into the short-term impact of elections. The medium-term consequences will matter more.
Today sees the release of May data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to a pick-up in new order growth during May, supporting a further solid increase in output. The rate of job creation also accelerated as firms responded to current workloads and positive expectations around future new work. Meanwhile, both input costs and output prices rose at slower rates than in April. Continue reading
Disruption is perhaps one of the most overused words in business – Amazon disrupted book selling, Uber disrupted taxis, and Airbnb is disrupting hospitality. But disruption has also been a major feature of politics, going as far back as the financial crisis, and including the Eurozone crisis, political turmoil in places like Greece and France, and Trump. Continue reading
Business surveys paint a rosy picture of the UK economy. Growth looks healthy. While still-strong job growth is supporting part of the growth in consumers’ spending, the balance is down to increased borrowing. That can’t go on forever. Will investment and exports fill that gap and keep growth on course? That’s the question for the rest of 2017.
We have all heard Chancellors past and present wax lyrical about the deficit. This of course was referring to the UK’s national deficit – the difference between spending and revenue. But how are the deficits faring at a regional level? Continue reading