From golf to GDP, why unlikely events confound forecasters

Life imitates art, as the sporting world has shown this week. The Grand National was won by a horse which had never previously won a steeplechase. The US golf Masters was won by Danny Willett, who nearly did not take part at all because of the birth of his son. With only nine of the […]

China is drowning in private sector debt: there’s no telling how this one will end

The eyes of the financial and economics worlds are now fixed on China, with focus predominantly on Chinese stock markets and the country’s GDP figures.  A fascinating perspective was provided last week in the leafy borough of Kingston upon Thames.  The university has recruited the Australian Steve Keen as head of its economics department, and it […]

No more whingeing, please. The recovery is solid.

Last month saw some very positive economic news. The US Federal Reserve raised interest rates for the first time in over seven years.  The Bank of England reported on the major stress test of UK banks which it launched in March 2015.  It concluded that “the banking system is capitalised to support the real economy […]

It is not just the Euro. Southern Europe faces a major structural crisis

Major shocks to social and economic systems ruthlessly expose weaknesses which can be contained in more normal times.  When the price of oil quadrupled in 1973/74, the different levels of resilience in the labour markets of Western Europe were quickly revealed.  Inflation initially rose sharply everywhere.  By 1976, it had fallen to 4 per cent […]

Forward guidance needed for companies, not consumers

Most of the commentary on the UK’s economic recovery focuses on consumers. Are they taking on too much debt again to finance their spending? Is there a bubble in house prices, as people get excited about bricks and mortar again? Certainly, in terms of its sheer size, spending by consumers is by far the biggest […]

German revival exposes deep fissure within Europe’s economies

In the 1990s and early 2000s, Germany was seen by many as the new ‘Sick Man of Europe’. Between 1991 and 2005, GDP growth averaged only 1.2 per cent a year, compared to 3.3 per cent in the UK. Since then, the German economy has revived dramatically. The recovery in the German cluster of economies […]

The so-called ‘output gap’: another piece of economic mumbo-jumbo

The concept of the’ output gap’ is central to mainstream macroeconomics. It is not merely of academic interest. The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) has a specific requirement to estimate the output gap, which it defines formally as “the difference between the current level of activity in the economy and the potential level it could […]

The recovery is well grounded – except in France

The coming year looks like it will be a good one. At the start of each of the past five years, the economic scales have been tilted down, and the challenge has been to look for factors which might have tipped them back up. This year, the balance is reversed. The onus lies with the […]

How Bad Has It Been? 2008-2013 in Historical Perspective

The end of a year is a good time to take stock. For the first time since 2007, prospects for the UK for the forthcoming year look unequivocally good. But looking back, just how bad have the last few years been across the developed world as a whole? And how do they compare with previous […]