Last week started with the prorogation of the UK Parliament, the legality of which will be decided by the Supreme Court this week. Despite the political storm, it looks like the UK economy managed to stave off a recession. A series of significant new monetary easing measures were announced by the outgoing ECB President Draghi.
UK workers received a Christmas bonus with the highest wage growth for a decade reported last week. The labour market is yet again the star performer in an economy that is otherwise losing a little momentum.
What were the economic highlights and lowlights of 2018? What will be good, bad and ugly in 2019? Who will be next year’s economic villain? What word would you use to sum up what you expect to see in the next 12 months? These and many other questions about the Northern Ireland and global economies are asked and discussed in our new podcast, which we’ve boldly called the Big Economic Quiz of the Year.
And fittingly, we have some big fish from the local economics community contributing. Angela McGowan, Director of the CBI in Northern Ireland and Richard Johnston, Deputy Director of the Ulster University Economic Policy Centre join our own Richard Ramsey and business journalist Jamie Delargy to review, predict and ruminate.
The squeeze on living standards hasn’t gone away
In recent months an emerging narrative has been that the squeeze on UK living standards has relaxed or even ended. This refers to the pace of annual earnings growth overtaking inflation. However, real earnings growth remains modest at best. Meanwhile the squeeze continues for public sector workers on pay caps (1% p.a.) and households experiencing a multi-year freeze on working-age welfare benefits (until 2020). In light of the fact that the price of necessities including utility bills, motoring costs, rates bills and private sector rents (for Northern Ireland) are all rising at substantial rates and above the headline rate of inflation, it is premature to talk of a meaningful end to the cost of living squeeze. Continue reading
Not only has the poor weather prolonged winter and darkened our moods, it also looks to have taken a fair slice off economic growth in the first quarter. With luck it’s just a blip.
We’re just over a month-and-a-half into 2018, and planes have been dominating the economic news agenda this year so far.
On the one hand, we’ve had the trade dispute between Boeing and Bombardier come to a head, following weeks and indeed months of hand-wringing about the potential impact of any tariffs on the Canadian firm’s Belfast operations. On the other hand, we’ve had another stream of good news on the tourism front, as more and more overseas visitors flock to Belfast and Northern Ireland.
January is usually the time for a bit of restraint after the festive period’s excesses. For people in the UK it might last beyond January given the ongoing squeeze on incomes. But if you’re looking for better news on this Blue Monday you’ll find it in UK manufacturing performance, company profitability and global growth.
It’s looking a lot like October all over again. Just as a flurry of US policymakers were talking up the chances of a Fed rate rise later this month, the labour market produces a bad headline and throws it all into doubt. Exactly the same thing happened towards the end of last year when October’s move was postponed till December.
The Chinese stock market and manufacturing sector got the new year off to a less than ideal start, but better than expected US employment and Euro Area business data gave some cause for cheer.