Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – On the Bright Side

When it’s cold and dark, we naturally look forward to the warmth and light of festivities ahead. For the UK economy, we can with reasonable confidence anticipate some future vantage point from which we will be able to look back on the difficult recent period of inflation and monetary tightening. The next official statistics on inflation will likely show gradual progress. Confidence about other outcomes, though, notably long-term productivity growth and global decarbonisation, can feel more like a leap of faith.

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Ulster Economix Episode 33 | Downturn under construction – November 2023

The podcast that keeps you up to date with what is happening economy-wise in Northern Ireland.  Telling you what you need to know but not necessarily what you want to hear. It is better to be prepared for the economic environment we are operating in and not the world we would like to be in.

Featuring Mark Spence, CEO, Construction Employers Federation

Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – Seasonal Adjustments

Updates last week from the Chancellor and the fiscal watchdog, the OBR, took a lot of digesting. As the Autumn Statement headlines and Thanksgiving sales fade away, for many of us the key financial figures to watch will be heating bills and Christmas shopping receipts. The big picture for the UK is an economy hobbling along under the shadow of high interest rates, though with a sense of relief that we have so far avoided a recession.

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Autumn Statement shapes battlefield for General Election

Today’s Autumn Statement was in sharp contrast to the big fiscal statements of Rishi Sunak’s era as Chancellor. During Covid, Sunak was throwing money around like a drunken sailor as he sought to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on households, businesses and the health service. There was no such largesse from Jeremy Hunt today, albeit he did change his tact from his previous fiscal statements by turning from tax grabber to tax cutter.

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Chief Economist Weekly Briefing — According to Plan

Monetary tightening is a harsh remedy, but it is reassuring to see evidence that the process is working. The latest UK labour market, house price and retail sales numbers suggest that high interest rates have been cooling demand. Most importantly, inflation has fallen sharply. This week the Chancellor will set out new fiscal plans. Disinflation may give him scope to argue that the economy is heading in the right direction, even while tax and spending options remain unenviable.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Elusive growth

On the UK economy, take your pick. Pessimists emphasise stagnation, high inflation, and a weakening labour market, while optimists see resilience, gradual disinflation and signs that monetary policy is working. But in the background is an uncomfortable feeling that we have grown used to low expectations. Headlines this week will likely announce a fall in inflation, boosting the national mood, but we will need further good news to feel confident of a better future.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Pause for thought

Having spent most of 2022 and 2023 hiking interest rates, the central banks in London, Washington and Frankfurt are now taking a breather and scanning the horizon. Uncertainties abound. How much of the impact of raising rates has materialised? How are workers, firms and consumers behaving? Monetary policymakers, having been wrong-footed by inflation, are keen to avoid appearing complacent. Talk of cutting rates is firmly dismissed, but markets expect cuts in 2024. Though inflation should ease, steering the economy could get even harder.

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Working from home: a trick and a treat?

Half-term breaks used to be the time of the year when offices were at their quietest as parents took leave to spend time with their children when they were off school. These days, though, there is perhaps little difference, as many offices are quiet throughout the year due to working from home. Whilst this has clear benefits for many, some parents would view working from home during the Halloween break as something of a horror story, with no prospect of peace and quiet to be productive.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Oceans apart

While the US appears to be enjoying ‘immaculate disinflation’, moving beyond price pressures without suffering a recession, indicators in the UK are less encouraging. Business activity seems to be contracting and unemployment inching up. Pessimism could be premature, though. Statistical difficulties are making it harder to follow these developments, and the economy also has some positive stories to tell. The Bank of England interest rate decision and inflation forecast this week will help shape the mood as winter approaches.

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