Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Gently does it

pound-414418_1280 (3).jpgDebt looms large not just in the UK but across major economies. So rate hikes have to proceed very gently.

The producers. A decent August for UK production as output rose by 0.2% on the month. If it manages the same in September then production should rise by 0.9% in Q3, about treble its recent pace. Manufacturing is enjoying a mini-renaissance. Output rose 0.4% on the month and turnover is up 6% on the year. It’s an equal opportunity buoyancy too, benefiting common-or garden manufacturers as well as the high-end techie stuff. What’s not to like? Continue reading

New orders rise at fastest pace in year-to-date

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Today sees the release of September data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – signalled a further sharp increase in new orders at Northern Ireland companies, supporting the fastest rise in business activity in the year-to-date. The rate of job creation also accelerated. Continue reading

Hurricane means hurricane… but what category will it be?

We are currently in Atlantic hurricane season, and with five major hurricanes to date, it looks like it will be the most active one in around seven years, as well as the costliest ever. With the Brexit vote and Trump, it could also be said that we are moving into a very unsettled economic and political weather system. Indeed, it is perhaps the stormiest forecast, economically and politically, the UK and US have faced since around 2010. Continue reading

Putting the economy first again

Brexit.pngThe tectonic plates of the established global trading system are moving. BRUMP – the Brexit vote and the Trump presidency – have created two fault lines – one in North America and the other in Europe.

2016 therefore looks to have been the peak for trade liberalisation. Moves to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and a European equivalent – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – have already been scuppered by the current US President. These initiatives, years in development, were cancelled with a stroke of a pen earlier this year. Meanwhile Trump’s administration is also seeking to dismantle the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA). Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – On the horizon

retail-1424043_1280.jpgYou can’t keep the UK shopper down. The retail sales figures for August are testament to that. Is a hike in interest rates on the way to cool things off?

Boom! UK shoppers hit the shops with gusto in August. The amount spent grew by 1.0%m/m and 5.6%y/y. The volume purchased, which adjusts the amount spent for inflation, rose 1.0%m/m and 2.4%y/y. Rising employment means more people are earning but that can’t account for retail sales growth. Either we dipped into our savings or we borrowed more. The Monetary Policy Committee will have noticed the rise in inflation to 3.2%. That will strengthen the hand of members who believe that the time for a rise in Bank Rate is coming closer. Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – All work and no pay

people-2568530_1920.jpgWith unemployment at a 40-year low, wages should be rising at roughly twice their current pace. That they are not reflects rising supply, a shift to self-employment, less job switching than usual and, above all, stagnant productivity. It can also stump central banks used to the conventional relationship between work and pay. Continue reading