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

NI Composite Economic Index

The latest economic output statistics confirm that the Northern Ireland economy was growing strongly in Q2 ahead of the EU referendum result. The Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index expanded at its fastest rate (+1.0% q/q) in almost three years in Q2 2016 and hit its highest level in over 6 years. However, this overall headline performance conceals divergence between the private and public sectors.  While the former remains in expansion mode the latter continues to reduce its headcount in the face of public spending pressures. Continue reading

Would hard Brexit mean a hard landing for agri-food?

The first hundred days is seen as a critical time in politics. Coined in a 1933 radio address by Franklin D Roosevelt, it is often used to measure the successes and accomplishments of a president during the time that their power and influence is at its greatest. Chief Executives of companies also view their first hundred days as a period in which their authority has to be asserted and their intentions known. Continue reading

Chart of the Month – Economic Surprise Index

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More than three months have passed since the UK’s EU Referendum result. Since then we have become all too familiar with three words “Brexit means Brexit”. The economic impact to date could also be summed up in three words: better than expected. The Citi Economic Surprise Indices measure data surprises relative to market expectations.  A positive reading means that data releases have been stronger than expected.  Conversely, a negative reading means that data releases have been worse than expected. During the month of May the incoming UK economic data was much weaker than market expectations, hence the negative readings with the Surprise Index.  However, following the EU referendum on 23rd June there has been a steady stream of better than expected data. Indeed, the UK Economic Surprise Index recently hit a three-year high. Economic indicators ranging from the labour market to retail sales have exceeded the consensus opinion amongst analysts in recent months. While economic conditions following the post-Brexit vote have not been as bad as feared, it is too early to draw any firm conclusions on the economic impact from Brexit.  After all, Brexit hasn’t taken place yet and the UK remains in the EU. Furthermore, we don’t have any clarity on what type of Brexit deal the UK Government envisages or what the EU will accept.