Longer lockdown based on hypotheticals would come with serious economic costs

The penny is finally beginning to drop. The health service’s focus on giving absolute priority to the treatment of Covid-19 generates costs and problems on a massive scale. Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers, has warned of the huge pressures on the NHS from the backlog of non-Covid cases. Many of these are life-threatening […]

Britain is more optimistic about Brexit than gloomy forecasts suggest

British Weather

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) is up to its usual tricks. Last week, it predicted a two-year recession in the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Even in the main forecast, involving a mild Brexit, GDP was projected to grow by only 1.2 per cent this year and 1.4 per cent in 2020. […]

Cautious corporates sitting on hoards of cash are to blame for our slow recovery

London construction

The slow recovery since the financial crisis remains a dominant issue in both political and economic debate. The economy has definitely revived since 2009, the depth of the recession, in both Britain and America. The average annual growth in real GDP has been very similar, at 2.0 and 2.1 per cent respectively. This is much […]

What Dirty Harry tells us about economic forecasters’ Michael Fish moment

Economic forecasters are in the dock. Last week, none other than the chief economist of the Bank of England, Andy Haldane, was confessing the crimes of the profession. The failure to predict the financial crisis was, Haldane said, economic forecasting’s “Michael Fish” moment. Thirty years ago, the BBC weatherman predicted that the UK would avoid […]

Why austerity must be the order of the day for May’s chancellor

On the face of it, the Brexiteers have a bit of explaining to do. A week before the vote, Boris Johnson dismissed fears about the value of sterling, and accused the governor of the Bank of England of “talking the economy down”. Yet the economy does seem to have stalled, property funds have had to […]

The coming explosion in natural debt is a serious risk to the economy

Martin Feldstein of Harvard is an economist who should always be taken seriously. Writing in 1997 about the forthcoming introduction of the euro, for example, he argued that “the adverse economic effects of a single currency on unemployment would outweigh any potential gains from trade flows”. He went on to predict that the euro was […]

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. […]