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

Farming exchanges bad times for good, but what lies ahead?

tractor-1815232_1280.jpgLast year was a year of many surprises – Brexit, Trump, Leicester winning the English Premier League, and Ireland beating the All-Blacks in rugby are just some examples that come to mind. The Northern Ireland economy also enjoyed an unexpectedly positive year in 2016, with many record-breaking performances, including in the labour market. But the turnaround in the fortunes of the agriculture sector is perhaps even more startling. Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Getting better all the time

London_Eye_sunset_study_-_P1040370.jpgWhether it’s booming car sales or rising job satisfaction the data says the UK is in a good place. Or maybe that’s the after effects of a sunny weekend…

Service charge. Nine months on from the EU referendum result, the UK’s service sector hasn’t lost its mojo. According to the March PMI the sector notched up its fastest rate of growth for the year with an overall score of 55, up from February’s 53.3. Firms remain very optimistic for the future but inflationary pressures remain a concern. Input cost inflation eased last month relative to February’s near 8-1/2 year peak but still remain high. Passing these costs on to customers through higher charges remains a priority, sharpening the focus on this week’s inflation data. Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Happy birthday to EU and goodbye

Sterling is down 12% since the referendum and some effects of its decline are becoming apparent.

Pound.jpgPipeline pressures. Sterling’s weakness has fuelled import cost inflation. Manufacturers’ raw material costs rose by 19% y/y in February and firms have been passing some of these costs on to customers. Back in June factory gate prices were falling on an annual basis. Subsequently, output price growth has accelerated in every single month. Last month they were up 3.7% y/y the largest increase since December 2011. Price rises were evident across all product categories from food to fuel. Consumers have been warned. Further price rises are coming. 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