Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Waiting and Watching

The oft-repeated light at the end of the tunnel may just be glowing a little brighter. Falling infection rates coupled with the timely vaccine rollout, the impressive housing market bounceback and an optimistic forecast set by the Bank of England are all stock for the refreshment station of this long marathon. But this is not the only race we are running. A timely reminder last week came on the miles ahead to protect the natural world.  

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Jab and go (hopefully)

There’s no doubt the lockdown has taken a significant toll on the UK economy.  Add to that Brexit effects are showing up in the form of higher costs and disruptions at the border. But the pace of vaccination remains very impressive, and with it confidence builds of a strong recovery. An outlook echoed by the IMF this past week.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief – Jobs boom but wages disappoint

Smile. Unemployment is 4% in the UK. Last seen when Derby County won the league, Harold Wilson was PM and ‘Make me smile (come up and see me)’ topped the charts. We’re practically German (3.4%). Employment rose 42k in Q2, full time jobs up 105k (so a fall in part time). True, the money’s not great. Average pay growth slipped to 2.4%y/y in June, barely above the preferred measure of inflation (2.3%).  We’re treading water. Otherwise, it’s hard to fault the figures. Jobs are more secure and ¾ of the increase in jobs are high skilled.  Many may be on holiday. But the labour market certainly isn’t.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Brief Pick-me-up

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.

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Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – On the horizon

retail-1424043_1280.jpgYou can’t keep the UK shopper down. The retail sales figures for August are testament to that. Is a hike in interest rates on the way to cool things off?

Boom! UK shoppers hit the shops with gusto in August. The amount spent grew by 1.0%m/m and 5.6%y/y. The volume purchased, which adjusts the amount spent for inflation, rose 1.0%m/m and 2.4%y/y. Rising employment means more people are earning but that can’t account for retail sales growth. Either we dipped into our savings or we borrowed more. The Monetary Policy Committee will have noticed the rise in inflation to 3.2%. That will strengthen the hand of members who believe that the time for a rise in Bank Rate is coming closer. Continue reading

Chief Economist’s Weekly Briefing – Hard earned

crowd-71255_1280We’re breaking records for the number of people in work, yet more productive jobs are what we really need.

Record breakers. 2016 ended with
the UK’s highest share of people working since we started counting it in the 1970s. At 74.6% the working age employment rate hit a new record and the number in work reached 30.6 million. Continue reading