Global growth is slowing. The latest PMI survey says that it was at an almost 4-year low in February. The Chinese Authorities have already taken action and the European Central Bank is expected to do more soon. It is perhaps little surprise that the talk of negative interest rates is spreading to these shores. Continue reading →
Recent oil price falls partly reflect a malaise in the world economy: weak demand. And with disappointing data from the US, the UK and the Euro Area, market expectations of interest rate rises in the near future are fading.
Structural reform. That’s when governments reform markets – for example to boost competition – and invest in assets, from people to roads. Structural reform delivers faster growth but it offers jam tomorrow. To be sure, the Eurozone needs reform in spades but it needs substantial support today to escape weak growth and high unemployment. It’s a picture not unlike Northern Ireland!
This is an extended version of an article that appears in Belfast Telegraph Business Month (February Edition) published 2nd February 2015.
Arguably the biggest surprise of 2014 was the collapse in the oil price. Few economists if any predicted the price of a barrel of Brent crude to fall by almost 60% in just 7 months. Having peaked at $115pb last June, the European oil price benchmark hit $45pb last month. This represented the lowest level since March 2009 which coincided with the depths of the global recession. Since then, the oil price has largely fluctuated between $48-50pb. However, since last Thursday the oil price has jumped by almost 12% from $49pb to almost $55pb.