Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Spring healing

The onset of Spring is a reminder of renewal and growth. And so the world economy continues to heal. That positivity is reflected in the latest economic data as well as IMF’s latest outlook, which points to higher growth and less long-term damage than previously expected. Similarly, the 12-month outlook amongst Northern Ireland firms is at a 13-month high. But what confidence there is could be dented by the current political situation and negative news headlines.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Keep the good news coming

The next step of lockdown easing in England will proceed as planned – non-essential retail, outdoor pubs and restaurants and hairdressers (a massive relief!) will re-open next week. While the data says that household savings pots are ready to lend a big helping hand!  And with it the route out of the UK being a G7 economic laggard. As for those of us in Northern Ireland, there is no end of the dodgy haircut, or indicative dates for reopening, in sight.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Blocked

Encouraging signs of an economic recovery in the US, EZ and the UK were upstaged by a boat stuck in a canal.  Pre-COVID, the phrase “a lorry has broken down on the Westlink” struck fear into Belfast’s rush hour commuters. Imagine that lorry blocking traffic for days or even weeks. Then scale that up to the global Westlink that is the Suez canal.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – One year on…

…from the first lockdown last spring we continue to find ourselves under partial lockdown. Have we frozen in time? The answer is emphatically not. Reports on the recovery gathering pace continues to flow in, with job adverts the latest to show a marked improvement. Locally, some manufacturing sectors (e.g. pharma) are posting record levels of output. But some of us are not so lucky. Italy has entered lockdown, again!

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Stormont signs fiscal galacticos

The Department of Finance rarely turns heads. But last week it sent fiscal geeks delirious. While news of extended business rates relief was expected. The surprise was the unveiling of Sir Robert Chote, the former chair of the UK’s OBR, to head up NI’s new Fiscal Council. Effectively an NI OBR. In fiscal terms this is like Glentoran signing Lionel Messi. The second big signing was the IFS’s Paul Johnson to chair the Fiscal Commission looking at what further fiscal powers could be devolved to Stormont. Chapeau!

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – A shot in the arm

Chancellor Sunak set out what will (hopefully) be the final phase of the extraordinary support in response to the pandemic. A host of support measures were announced, amounting to a whopping £65bn (around 3% of GDP) worth of spending. Looks like the UK economy is now even better positioned to bridge the gap to recovery. But there was a strong steer on the public finance repair job to come. 

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Exit strategies

The lockdown exit roadmap has been set, cautiously but (hopefully) irreversibly. And come March 3, the Chancellor will table the Budget, outlining the future of the government support schemes which have been so effective in preventing a wider economic fallout. But charting a course out from the extraordinary levels of government spending will be challenging. While markets have awoken to such spending levels igniting inflation down the road.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Waiting and Watching

The oft-repeated light at the end of the tunnel may just be glowing a little brighter. Falling infection rates coupled with the timely vaccine rollout, the impressive housing market bounceback and an optimistic forecast set by the Bank of England are all stock for the refreshment station of this long marathon. But this is not the only race we are running. A timely reminder last week came on the miles ahead to protect the natural world.  

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