The Saturday Economist May 18th : Inflation Report, a welcome change in outlook

The Saturday Economist 18th May - Growth is in sight

Economics news – Inflation Report, a welcome change in outlook

Inflation Report
Wednesday, May Inflation Report, last in the series (of 82) for Sir Mervyn King as Governor. “There is a welcome change in the economic outlook”. Projections are for growth to be a little stronger and inflation a little weaker than expected three months ago. “A recovery is in sight”. Excellent. The Governor is upbeat. The forecast is for growth – slightly above 1% for the year as a whole, with a gradual recovery thereafter.

Base rates are likely to remain on hold until 2016, inflation will moderate from the current 2.8% level but is likely to remain above target by the end of the year. This all fits nicely with The Saturday Economist outlook outlined earlier in February this year! No black clouds, no stormy water, no difficult charts to navigate, the economy is headed for a safe harbour that even a Canadian novice could pilot apparently. The King has had his day, “now it is over to the next generation to have theirs”, he added, before leaving the room with an obvious smile on his face.

Concerns about Europe
Well there are a still a few concerns about Europe! “The main downside risk to the recovery continues to stem from overseas, especially in the euro area”. So it proved with the Eurostat updates on the Euro economy mid week. Not doing quite so well, the flash estimate for the first quarter of 2013 suggested Euroland GDP fell by 1% compared to the first quarter of 2012. It is not looking too good, the pigs are breeding and heading north.

The French economy slipped back into recession with a fall of 0.4% following a similar fall in the prior quarter. Even the Germans, took a knock, with output down by 0.3% in the first three months. NIESR predicts negative GDP out turn for the Euro in the year, which fits nicely with the IMF three speed world recovery outlined recently by Christine Lagarde. Hopefully the UK is moving away for European trends and joining the Anglo Saxon growth alliance, as the US recovery gathers pace.

Employment UK
Not quite so fast as hoped, perhaps, the employment stats released on Wednesday were a little disappointing. The claimant count continued to fall into April, down by 8,000 to 1.52 million and a rate of 4.5%. The number of vacancies also increased slightly but on the  wider LFS count, the number in employment actually fell slightly in the three months to March.

That’s the great thing about the employment stats, sixty pages with something therein for politicians of any hue. For two handed economists, the data is at times indecipherable, the earnings data, incomprehensible, flat at best.

Confused? Check out The Saturday Economist web site, probably the best economics site in the UK.

What happened to sterling?
Once again, it’s all about the dollar, pushing to 103.1 from 101.5 against the yen and to 1.2838 (1.2992) against the Euro. Sterling also fell to 1.5168 from 1.5356, down slightly against the euro at 1.1811 from 1.1825.

Oil Price Brent Crude closed at $104.64 from $103.91. No impact on inflation at this level.

Markets, once again the beneficiaries of US hopes. The Dow closed at 15,354 from 15,118 and the FTSE closed at 6,723 from 6,625. Time to sell in May and go away perhaps our US readers cautioned otherwise last week.

UK Ten year gilt yields held at 1.90 but US gilt yields closed up 1.95 from 1.90. As for gold, gold closed down at $1,361 from $1,447.

That’s all for this week, don’t miss The Sunday Times and Croissants out tomorrow. The Saturday is mobile friendly, no need for a special app any more!

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