At this time of year, we tend to pause and take stock of where we are economically. And when it comes to 2018, it would be tempting to view things through the prism of Western movies.
The UK Treasury painted a downbeat picture for the UK economy in the event of a no-Brexit deal but was surpassed by an even more pessimistic prognosis from the Bank of England. Still, all major UK banks passed the latest annual stress tests assuming a worst case scenario, highlighting significantly enhanced capital positions.
The EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement was rubber stamped by the EU 27 leaders on Sunday after 20 months of negotiation. Yet the agreement might be entering the most difficult phase of its life as it’s unclear how the legislation will get through Parliament with so many MPs saying they’ll vote against it. Prime Minister Theresa May has vowed to deliver Brexit, the next few weeks should reveal which package arrives.
Today saw the release of the Northern Annual Business Inquiry (NIABI) by NISRA. This is a key resource for measuring the size, performance and structure of the Northern Ireland non-financial business economy. It excludes the public sector and accounts for around two-thirds of Northern Ireland’s overall economy.
The publication of a draft EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement puts down on paper the debates of the last 18 months. Its progress is far from assured, but we were also given a glimpse of what the future might look like from the accompanying political declaration. Here’s our take on the key points along with the latest UK data.
UK GDP growth picked up in Q3 but this bounce is likely to be fleeting, judging from latest downbeat business surveys.
Today sees the release of October data from the Ulster Bank Northern Ireland PMI. The latest report – produced for Ulster Bank by IHS Markit – pointed to a slight pick-up in growth in October, with both output and new orders rising more quickly than in September. Rates of expansion were still weaker than seen earlier in the year, however. The rate of job creation also ticked up, but business sentiment dropped to the weakest in the 20-month series history. On the price front, both input costs and output prices increased at sharper rates amid higher costs for a range of inputs.
The Bank of England’s latest forecasts show inflation staying above the 2% target, despite rising UK rate expectations. Prices should get a further boost from the looser fiscal policy announced in the Budget. But, as ever, all those forecasts hinge on a smooth Brexit.
If you’re in your 30s, you might want to look away now. Ten years ago, your age bracket was the highest earning on average in Northern Ireland’s private sector, with average earnings more than one-fifth higher than the typical person aged over-60. Today, those in their 30s earn less than any other older working age-bracket. That’s a significant change in a 10-year period and is very much worth exploring.
In many ways, yesterday’s budget could be summarised as spend now, tax later.