Podcast Episode 24 – That’s so last year with Andrew Webb – January 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 Andrew Webb, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton 

Last year was tumultuous for the UK to say the least both in terms of politics and economics. We witnessed 4 Chancellors, 3 Prime Ministers in the space of two months and two monarchs. The UK said farewell to its longest-reigning monarch Queen Elizabeth II and its shortest serving Prime Minister – Liz Truss. Liz’s mantra was Go big or Go home and she did both in the space of 44 days.

Trussonomics – through the misnomer that was the “Mini-Budget” threw fuel onto a cost of borrowing crisis which was a new angle to the wider cost of living crisis.  That rounded off the year with a recessionary threat clouding the outlook and a Mexican wave of strike action taking place throughout the UK.

And that was just at home. Globally, geopolitics loomed large in 2022, not least following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, with geopolitics exerting a far greater influence and shaping the outlook in a way it hasn’t done in years.

Against this backdrop it is not surprising that the Collins English Dictionary word of the year was “PERMACRISIS”.

Despite these multifaceted woes, Northern Ireland continues to battle these challenges with one or even two hands tied behind its back with no functioning Executive in Stormont.

Podcast Episode 23 – The Fall with Siobhan McAleer – November 2022

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.

Sorry, no Jamie Dornan or Gillian Anderson on this podcast. Just an economist and a mortgage broker chewing the fat.

‘The Fall’ refers to the continued fall in output, confidence and living standards amongst other things. We will major on the local mortgage market in a bit.

In this episode we are delighted to be joined by Siobhan McAleer Managing Director of The Mortgage Shop – which Siobhan founded in 1992 and which has become one of the largest mortgage brokerages in Northern Ireland and which has branches in Great Britain / Mainland UK. 


But first reflecting on another month and we had not one but two fiscal events. 

Podcast Episode 22 – The kindness of strangers is wearing thin – with Gareth Hetherington – October 2022

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 Gareth Hetherington – Director of the Ulster University Economic Policy (NICEP) at Ulster University.

Podcast Episode 21 – In Liz We Trus(s)t with Andrew Webb, Grant Thornton – September 2022

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 Andrew Webb, Chief Economist at Grant Thornton 

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Podcast Episode 20 – The Cash Crunch with Sam McIlveen, NI Jobs – August 2022

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 Sam McIlveen, General Manager at NI Jobs (NIJobs.com)

Throughout August we’ve heard lots of comparisons between today and 1976, given the heatwaves and drought that affected both years. 2022 has been the UK’s driest year since and the driest in Europe for 500 years. Europe’s rivers, such as the Rhine, have been drying up with the record drought in China causing similar problems there. The Southwest of China depends on hydroelectric dams for three-quarters of its electricity generation. Rolling blackouts and business closures due to lack of power have become the norm. 

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Episode 19 | Hiking season returns… time to head for the hill featuring Jordan Buchanan – May 2022

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 Jordan Buchanan – PropertyPal Chief Economist

We’ve become well used to price hikes with rampant inflation.  But April was marked by tax hikes with the increase in National Insurance Contributions hitting the pockets of many employees as well as employers. The attention now though is very firmly on interest rate hikes with the Federal Reserve having just delivered its first half a percentage point rate increase in 22 years with more to come as the Fed seeks to tame inflation which is at 40-year-high.

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Episode 17 | The Great Omission – March 2022

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.

Last week’s Spring Statement was initially supposed to be little more than an update on economic and fiscal forecasts. However, it had been overtaken by events; namely the cost-of-living crisis. 

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Podcast Episode 14 | Economic ghosts of past present and future – December 2021

The podcast that keeps you up to date with what is happening economy-wise in Northern Ireland.

On the cusp of Christmas, it feels apt to reflect on the past, present and future of the local economy. And with issues like Covid, Brexit and rampant inflation very much on the agenda, there is no shortage of scary topics to discuss.

2021 was the year of the rebound and it was full steam ahead on the recovery with the roll out of vaccines facilitating that by allowing the economy to open up. This meant that vaccine queues were one of the images of the year, rather than the expected dole queues which were the ghosts of the past that didn’t come back to haunt us.

Output within Northern Ireland’s private services sector is back above pre-pandemic levels and has finally recovered the lost output from the previous recession – that’s the Global Financial Crisis / Property Crash one. It took the V-shaped recovery from a pandemic to get it back to levels last seen almost 15 years ago.

When it comes to the labour market, we are back above pre-pandemic levels in a range of areas including the number of employees on local payrolls. These have now reached record levels whilst the unemployment rate is below 4%. Predictions of a surge in unemployment following the end of the furlough scheme have proved wide of the mark. Some would say, with justification, that the job retention scheme has been probably the best pandemic policy in the world. Although some aspects of the labour market such as total hours worked and the number of self-employed are still well below pre-pandemic levels.