Roadkill or charging ahead?

There is a famous video about the reintroduction of a small number of wolves to Yellowstone National Park. It tells of how this intervention triggered a vast chain of unforeseen events, including forests regenerating, rivers becoming more fixed in their course, and soil erosion stopping. This had fundamental implications for the park’s ecosystem and very physical geography.

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Hurricane means hurricane… but what category will it be?

We are currently in Atlantic hurricane season, and with five major hurricanes to date, it looks like it will be the most active one in around seven years, as well as the costliest ever. With the Brexit vote and Trump, it could also be said that we are moving into a very unsettled economic and political weather system. Indeed, it is perhaps the stormiest forecast, economically and politically, the UK and US have faced since around 2010. Continue reading

Putting the economy first again

Brexit.pngThe tectonic plates of the established global trading system are moving. BRUMP – the Brexit vote and the Trump presidency – have created two fault lines – one in North America and the other in Europe.

2016 therefore looks to have been the peak for trade liberalisation. Moves to create a Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal and a European equivalent – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) – have already been scuppered by the current US President. These initiatives, years in development, were cancelled with a stroke of a pen earlier this year. Meanwhile Trump’s administration is also seeking to dismantle the North American Free Trade Association (NAFTA). Continue reading

Job creation slows as Brexterity beckons…

A raft of data emerged from the Department for the Economy today. The most significant release was the Quarterly Employee Survey (QES) for Q2 2017 -a comprehensive survey of the actual number of jobs in the economy.  This is more closely watched than the Labour Force Survey which looks at people working in some shape or form (paid, unpaid, self-employed, voluntary etc). Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Charm offensive

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Prime Minister Theresa May was in the US for talks with President Trump last week. Securing the basis of the UK-US trading relationship is one of the UK’s biggest economic priorities after Brexit. But care is clearly needed after the US’s withdrawal from the TPP, demands to renegotiate NAFTA and threats of 20% tariffs on Mexico. Continue reading

Diverging economic picture set to continue in 2017

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Divergence has been a key theme of the Northern Ireland economy during recent years, with our economic performance consistently diverging from – i.e. falling further behind – the rest of the UK. But divergence has recently become more prominent in others areas too, including between the first and second half of 2016, the performance between sectors, within the labour market, and in terms of our domestic and export performance. And this is a theme that is set to become even more prominent in 2017. Continue reading