Bread and butter issues are local and global

Within all crises, there are opportunities, and people and companies change behaviours to adapt. During the pandemic, amidst all of the bad news, there were many positive stories of people pivoting to meet the challenge. There were a wide range of heroes, and this included companies – those producing PPE, those keeping the supply chains turning in food provision, and those enabling and supporting the vital digital transformation.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Under Strain

Global food production is coming under severe stress as war in Ukraine adds to pandemic-related shocks. Meanwhile, countries also need to curb dependence on fossil fuels, as the UK government outlined its energy strategy putting offshore wind and nuclear power at the centre of policy.  Businesses are grappling with challenges from surging prices to supply chain disruptions and, with inflation rates probably jumping again this week, that will likely continue to be the case.

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Activity continues to rise sharply, but inflationary pressures mount

Today sees the release of March data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI®. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by S&P Global – signalled further marked increases in output and new orders, although growth rates eased from February. Meanwhile, near-record increases in input costs and output prices were recorded, with the impact of stronger inflation leading to a sharp drop in confidence.

The NI private sector continued to show signs of growth in output, employment and order books in March, but there is no disguising the impact that the Ukraine / Russian conflict has had on business conditions. This has manifested itself in three key areas – escalating inflation, a slowdown in incoming business, and a significant dent to business confidence.

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Ulster Bank Ulster Fry Index at highest since 2014 

The annual Ulster Bank Ulster Fry Index shows that the price of all items making up the cooked breakfast gauge rose in the year to the end of February, using the UK Retail Price Index (RPI). 

Milk saw the biggest price increase in the index with a rise of 16.7% in the 12-months. There were also strong rises in the prices of a range of other items including eggs (8.2%), butter (6%), mushrooms (7.1%), bread (5.6%) and sausages (4.3%). 

English breakfast with bacon, sausage, fried egg, baked beans and tea or orange juice
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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Tougher Times

April brings an acute squeeze on UK living standards with households facing a 54% rise in energy bills. And that’s far from the end of it. Higher national insurance contributions also start this month. And that’s with inflation already at a 30-year high! Hard to find good news amidst all that. But if there’s some it’s that momentum leading up to the squeeze is a little better than thought: GDP rose 1.3% in the final quarter as opposed to 1% as initially estimated. 

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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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Household stockpiling two years ago was irrational, countries doing it now is not

Exactly this time two years ago, we thought we were entering a food crisis. People were stockpiling food items in the expectation of supply shortages and empty shelves, despite repeated reassurances from the industry and politicians. The reality was that the food and retail sectors pulled out all the stops to keep the supply lines open and to keep us fed. Today, two years on, though, a new and worrying food crisis is on the cards for different reasons.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Cloudy

The UK economy continued its robust recovery from the pandemic and tax revenues remained strong. However, good news on the public purse have been matched with challenging news for household finances as cost-of-living crisis unfolds. The chancellor announced some support measures with cuts to national insurance and fuel duty, but this won’t offset the projected drop in standards of living.

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What was in and more importantly what was left out of today’s Spring Statement

The background

This Spring Statement was initially supposed to be little more than an update on economic and fiscal forecasts. However, it has been overtaken by events; namely the cost-of-living crisis which has been exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine. As a result, the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has had to add a number of policy measures to today’s speech and to revisit some of the tax rises he announced last Autumn.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – All rise

Things are going up lately, from inflation, interest rates, energy prices, while covid cases also ticked up. Last week central banks addressed the most important feature of the post-pandemic era, rising inflation, while also acknowledging the hit to growth as a consequence of the war in Ukraine. US Federal reserve announced its first interest rate increase since 2018, and Bank of England completed the third consecutive hike. This week is Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s turn, who is under pressure to use his spring statement to help alleviate the cost-of-living crisis.

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