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

Sharpest rise in activity in 2017 so far

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Today sees the release of August data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The Northern Ireland private sector recorded faster rises in output and new orders during August, supporting further job creation. Sterling weakness played an important role in the local economy, helping firms to secure new export orders but also adding to inflationary pressures. Continue reading

Stuck in Reverse

2017 continues to be a disappointing year for new car sales at both a UK and Northern Ireland level. New car registrations in Northern Ireland fell by 9.3% y/y last month.  This compared with declines of 10% for Scotland and Wales and almost 6% for England. August represented the fifth successive month of year-on-year declines for both Northern Ireland and UK dealers. Indeed, Northern Ireland has only posted one month of year-on-year gains (March) in eight months and this was linked to changes in vehicle excise duty rates (VED) which artificially inflated sales in March. Continue reading