Imagine taking out a mortgage and not only having to pay no interest, but actually being paid by your bank to borrow. It sounds like something from a Carlsberg ad, but it is the reality at present in Denmark, where negative interest rates are in place.
The BoE’s latest Inflation Report downgraded its growth forecasts but continues to predict “gradual” UK rate hikes assuming a smooth Brexit. In contrast, the Federal Reserve lowered the funds rate 0.25% to 2.25%, its first reduction since 2008. US president Trump’s announcement of a 10% tariff increase on the remaining $300bn of Chinese imports and China’s retaliation adds to global trade concerns, increasing the pressure for further Fed moves soon.
As expected the BoE kept its powder dry following August’s rate hike. Meanwhile, the ECB remains on course to halt QE by year-end but tame inflation suggests a rate hike is some way off. In contrast, the Fed looks odds on to tighten policy further later this month.
Debt looms large not just in the UK but across major economies. So rate hikes have to proceed very gently.
The producers. A decent August for UK production as output rose by 0.2% on the month. If it manages the same in September then production should rise by 0.9% in Q3, about treble its recent pace. Manufacturing is enjoying a mini-renaissance. Output rose 0.4% on the month and turnover is up 6% on the year. It’s an equal opportunity buoyancy too, benefiting common-or garden manufacturers as well as the high-end techie stuff. What’s not to like? Continue reading
Northern Ireland has the lowest taxes in the UK and the highest public expenditure per head of any region. Together, these form Northern Ireland’s fiscal USP (unique selling point). This approach to public finances, however, has arguably not served the economy well (and is unsustainable – read my previous article on the subject). Furthermore, given the ongoing austerity agenda, Stormont will have to redouble its efforts in making public expenditure efficiencies and increasing revenue. Continue reading