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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Stuck in Reverse

2017 continues to be a disappointing year for new car sales at both a UK and Northern Ireland level. New car registrations in Northern Ireland fell by 9.3% y/y last month.  This compared with declines of 10% for Scotland and Wales and almost 6% for England. August represented the fifth successive month of year-on-year declines for both Northern Ireland and UK dealers. Indeed, Northern Ireland has only posted one month of year-on-year gains (March) in eight months and this was linked to changes in vehicle excise duty rates (VED) which artificially inflated sales in March. Continue reading

10-year car sales high flattered by tax changes

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March a 10-year high for NI new car sales

March was a record month for new car sales in the UK and a 10-year high in Northern Ireland. There were 8,556 new cars sold locally last month, just over 1,000 fewer (11%) than the pre-recession peak of 9,564 in March 2006. The near 10% y/y rise in local new car sales last month compared favourably with a UK increase of 8.5%.  However, Northern Ireland’s sales figures are coming off a lower base and follow declines recorded in earlier months. Continue reading

Look beyond the economic headlines

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If there’s one thing that 2016 has perhaps taught us, it’s that you have to be wary of headlines. When it came to both the EU referendum debate and the US Presidential election, partisan UK and US media organisations often dominated public discourse with overly-simplified headlines that didn’t do justice to complex and nuanced stories. Continue reading

Petrol Head Index

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It probably hasn’t been a great year for Jeremy Clarkson. But can the same be said for petrol heads as a whole? Whilst consumers in general have been benefiting from falling food, clothing and energy prices, what has been happening to fuel, car, and auto part costs? With the hotly anticipated new series of Top Gear set to get underway, I thought it would be worth taking a peak under the bonnet.

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Car Park Economics

Photo of a row of cars in a dealer's lot

In London, they used to have the Cappuccino Index to gauge which areas where on the up and which were on the down – the sudden availability of froth-topped, good quality Italian coffee was seen as a solid indication of an imminent middle-class presence in an area (and therefore an indicator of likely house price rises). The Economist magazine had its Big Mac Index to compare exchange rates – as Big Macs internationally are broadly the same, differing prices in different countries showed the gap in how currencies are valued. For me, a bit of ‘car park economics’ is a very useful way to gauge how the economy has been performing. What people have been buying to get themselves from A to B – the size, brand, price and country of origin – can tell us a lot about everything from the strength of the Korean Won to the price of a barrel of Brent crude.

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