Although the UK economy has fared relatively well in the first half of the year, several headwinds persist, both for short-term and medium-to-longer-term performance. Foremost amongst the latter is the sustained weakness in productivity. Meanwhile the inflation outlook is uncertain with wages and prices still chasing one another upward. With the final destination for interest rates unknown, the hoped for economic ‘soft-landing’ still can’t be banked on.Continue reading
Back in December 2021, NISRA’s Index of Services and Industrial Production surveys for Q3 2021 revealed that economic output was closing in fast on pre-pandemic levels or indeed even exceeding them.
For example, industrial production (which is mostly manufacturing) was just 0.1% below the pre-pandemic level of Q4 2019 while private sector services output was 2.2% above the same benchmark.Continue reading
The UK labour market remains in rude health, a key support for the household sector. In contrast, US and Chinese retail sales disappointed. Meanwhile, German growth rebounded in early 2019 but the economy remains fragile.
This week is likely to see the EU grant a longer, but more conditional, extension to Article 50 than the UK Government has requested. Back in Westminster talks continue to try to find a set of proposals that can be passed by the House of Commons. Away from the politics, most economic data has been disappointing.
Following the recent Grieve amendment, the chances of Parliament passing PM Theresa May’s Withdrawal Agreement tomorrow look very slim. A rejection would force Mrs May to unveil a Plan B next Monday. An array of outcomes is possible with an increasing chance of Article 50 being extended.
Robust growth, according to PMI – The last few days has seen a flurry of surveys released on the health of the Northern Ireland economy. Ulster Bank’s PMI pointed to robust growth across the private sector in Q4 2017. The Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce & Industry’s Quarterly Economic Survey (QES) for the same period was not quite as positive as the PMI. Nevertheless, both manufacturing and services firms reported growth in the final quarter of 2017. Overall, the performance was more encouraging for the manufacturing sector than for services firms. Continue reading
After the sobering downgrade to our prospects for productivity growth comes the scramble for solutions. The new industrial strategy, if fulfilled, is a good place to start.
Last week the UK got a downgrade. Its growth prospects were slashed by the Office for Budget Responsibility in the all important area of productivity. If it’s correct, the country faces another decade of very challenging economic circumstances having just gone through one following the financial crisis.
Keeping our fingers crossed about an improvement in productivity isn’t working. Last week provided a stark reminder that the UK’s problem in this area remains critical. In fact, it seems to be getting worse. Continue reading
A raft of data emerged from the Department for the Economy today. The most significant release was the Quarterly Employee Survey (QES) for Q2 2017 -a comprehensive survey of the actual number of jobs in the economy. This is more closely watched than the Labour Force Survey which looks at people working in some shape or form (paid, unpaid, self-employed, voluntary etc). Continue reading