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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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Euro Vision

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For years now it has been a struggle to find anything positive to write about the Eurozone economy. Plagued by slow growth, high unemployment and intermittent sovereign debt crises it has been the developed world’s economic problem child. It’s too early yet to declare victory in the war against poor economic performance but there are signs that the region is staging a sustained, if modest recovery. Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Pesky

London 2.jpgNot for the first time, it appears inflation is making a bit of nuisance of itself. There was more evidence last week that the consumer is feeling the squeeze and its having a knock-on effect for growth.

Slower, part 1. The UK economy grew by 0.3% in Q1, down from 0.7% in Q4 2016. Weaker growth was caused mainly by a fall of 0.5% in the output of the retail and accommodation services sectors. If there’s such a thing as a good slowdown this was it. Higher inflation is squeezing incomes leaving people with a choice: run down their savings and borrow so as to sustain consumption or tighten their belts. These numbers suggest we’ve done the latter. Continue reading