This month marks two years since the Brexit vote, and in the intervening period, we have become fixated with the relationship between the UK and the EU. However, in many respects what is going on within the EU itself is potentially even more significant, and the next two years could be defining for the bloc.
Economic news from the Eurozone and US was generally very good last week. Bond yields are pushing higher as a result. That’s good news for people worrying about the possibility of more years of slow growth and low interest rates, sometimes called secular stagnation. It’s also a relief to the many firms grappling with big pension deficits. Continue reading
2017 highlighted the extent to which Northern Ireland has a high dependency on a small number of large firms. This can be seen in the latest Northern Ireland Economic Composite Index. It showed a fall in the index in Q3 2017, driven by a huge drop in the food beverages and tobacco sector. This dragged Northern Ireland manufacturing output down, falling at its fastest rate since the global recession. This was almost entirely down to the closure of the JTI tobacco factory in Ballymena. Take it out of the equation and it would have been a very different story.
This year, we are also going to see the closure of the Michelin factory in Ballymena, which will hit the manufacturing figures hard again in 2018. And then we have the closure of Schlumberger to come. Changes in things like regulations and costs can lead these foreign-owned companies to make swift decisions to move their operations to other locations around the globe.
For years now it has been a struggle to find anything positive to write about the Eurozone economy. Plagued by slow growth, high unemployment and intermittent sovereign debt crises it has been the developed world’s economic problem child. It’s too early yet to declare victory in the war against poor economic performance but there are signs that the region is staging a sustained, if modest recovery. Continue reading
Every UK data release is being closely analysed in the post-Brexit world. But it’s still early days. It’ll be a good number of weeks, probably months, before we have a better handle on the impact of the result. Continue reading
They say a week is a long time in politics. Almost two weeks have passed since the shock election result delivered the first majority Conservative government since 1992. Whilst we now have certainty over the shape of the new Government, and many of its policies, we face even more uncertainty in other areas. The next two years could be a very long and defining period in politics from an EU, UK and Northern Ireland-perspective.