Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Well, where did that come from?

business-18061_1280.jpgThree 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.

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Rate of job creation hits 13 month high

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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

Taxing times lie ahead

Tax has been a big talking point in recent years – we’ve had the sugar tax, the pasty tax, the plastic bag tax, and even the caravan tax. And locally, corporation tax long hogged the headlines. Some tax changes have been significant, others have been gimmicks. But the reality is that when it comes to dealing with the public finances, spending cuts rather than revenue-raising have been doing the heavy lifting. This dynamic though is about to change, and the contents of the recently launched party manifestos underline this. Continue reading