Businesses face a fresh tipping point of staff shortages and wage hikes

For years, inflation has not been an issue. Since the late 1990s, annual inflation in the UK has averaged 2 per cent, with a peak of just over 4 per cent. In the US, there was a similar story, with even less variability. This is in stark contrast to the 1970s and 1980s, when the […]

No matter how we measure inflation, politics will forever trump economics

THE ECONOMIC Affairs Committee of the House of Lords has got its bovver boots on. Last week, the government was given a sound kicking. The issue was the seemingly esoteric one of how to measure inflation. Inflation tells us how much the prices of goods and services are going up. The question is: what do […]

It’s fanciful to think China’s economy will overtake the US’s anytime soon

Chinese Lanterns

Possibly the single most important of the tensions stoked up by President Trump is the rivalry between the United States and China. Economic strength will be the ultimate determinant of this struggle for the position of Top Nation. Comparisons of the size of economies, particularly ones at very different levels of income per head, are fraught […]

Why the economics profession remains blind to the benefits of Brexit

The office for National Statistics last week estimated that the UK economy grew at an annual rate of 2.4 per cent in the final quarter of last year. This is slightly above the long-term average growth of the past three decades. But a Financial Times survey this month showed that the majority of economists remain […]

Forward guidance is just another delusion foisted on us by mainstream macro

The governor of the Bank of England, Mark Carney, was on good form last week when he appeared at the Treasury Committee of the House of Commons. Asked what “forward guidance” meant, he answered smoothly: “The thing about forward guidance is that it is guidance that is forward. Which is not to say it is meant to […]

Thank competition – not magical central bankers – for years of low inflation

Tempers are fraying at the highest levels of economic policy-making in the UK. Theresa May, at the Conservative Party conference, emphasised the “bad side effects” for savers of the Bank of England’s policy of near-zero interest rates, a position reinforced by former Tory leader William Hague in the Telegraph this week. A few days ago, […]

The only way could be down for shares – and Brexit is just the catalyst

The Brexit vote creates many uncertainties, exciting or frightening depending on your predilection. One thing which is certain is that the Leave victory was delivered by the less-skilled sections of the electorate. It seems part of a more general stirring up of what we might think of as the dispossessed, those who feel left behind […]

The poor state of macro justifies scepticism with Brexit disaster forecasts

David Cameron has tried to frame the Brexit debate into one based on economics.  Standing with him is the overwhelming consensus of economists themselves, from academics to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).  Their pronouncements are not having that much impact on the electorate if the polls are to be believed. There is justification for this […]

Is Britain on the edge of recession? History is an unreliable guide

Concerns are growing about a marked slowdown in the UK economy. The Lloyds Bank purchasing managers’ index, for example, fell to 52.1 in April, its lowest point since 2013. The initial estimate for GDP, total output, in the first quarter of this year shows an increase of just 0.4 per cent on the final quarter of 2015. […]