The NIESR blog is a forum for Institute research staff to provide an informed, independent view on current economic issues and recent NIESR research. The views expressed here are those of the authors, and are not necessarily those of the Institute.
Today, the Bank of England published minutes of the meeting of the Monetary Policy Committee that came to an end yesterday. At the meeting, the MPC decided to keep interest rates unchanged. The minutes also record the discussions that took place at the MPC about the Bank’s appropriate monetary stance. At NIESR, we have started quantifying the information content of MPC minutes and construct an index of the monetary stance.
In an article for the National Institute Economic Review published today I reviewed the main trends in the UK labour market over the last 50 years. Ten important facts emerge:
In mid-October, the Italian M5S-Lega coalition government submitted its 2019 draft budgetary plan to the European Commission, which subsequently rejected it on 23 October in what is called in Brussels’ jargon an opinion. The rejection of the Italian draft budget by the Commission, on the grounds that it would increase the budget deficit too much, was unprecedented.
Next Monday (29th October), the Chancellor of the Exchequer will present his budget to the House of Commons. He is expected to present spending plans for the coming five years, based on the Office for Budgetary Responsibility (OBR)’s forecasts for GDP growth. As with any projection, these forecasts are inherently uncertain, particularly as a result of substantial lags from preliminary measures of economic activity to the final estimate. For instance, since 1993, there has been only one occasion when GDP figures were not revised a quarter after the first release. Considerable uncertainty also exists as to the exact state and prospects for the UK economy.
What factors drive people’s negative views of immigration? Some have argued that anti-immigrant sentiments are driven by cultural concerns about the impact on our national identity and our traditional ‘way of life’ which is perceived to be threatened by the influx of foreigners with different cultural values and customs. Others focus on how attitudes are driven by economic concerns such as the perceived negative impact on jobs, wages and public services.
The MAC report out today concludes that a new managed migration system will have ‘winners and losers’ and the size of the benefits are likely to be modest’. Its key recommendation is that:
There should be a ‘less restrictive’ system for higher-skilled workers than for lower-skilled workers in a system where there is no preference for EEA over non-EEA workers’
The greatest challenge facing UK economic policy, far larger than Brexit, is zero productivity growth since the start of the Great Recession in 2008. The OECD recently projected that the UK’s GDP per capita will be 3% lower by 2030 than it would have been if the UK remained in the EU. This compares with a loss of about 21% in GDP per hour that has already been incurred as a result of stagnating productivity since 2007. This lost decade is even more surprising given that before the crisis the UK’s productivity growth rate was one of the highest amongst the advanced economies. Hence this is commonly referred to as the productivity puzzle. (For more on UK productivity and the puzzle see the Special Issue of the National Institute Economic Review for August 2017)
It is over forty years since Tony Crosland set up the Housing Finance Review in order to simplify housing policy and make it more coherent. A reasonable view of the current situation is that his initiative and many since have all failed in that objective.
With housing nothing seems to change. This is what I wrote in 1999:
“Concerns [about rising house prices] focus on the short term symptoms but it is really a long term problem. The constraints policy applies to the most basic attribute of housing – space – remain the same…When … the National Playing Fields Association complains that – despite government assurances to stop the sale of school playing fields for development - another 80 went last year, it is the flip side of the same coin (see here for a more recent example).The amount of land made available for development is decided in physical units and is intentionally highly constrained by the planning system. But market forces allocate the land that is made available. So developers bid up its price. In turn this creates an incentive for cash strapped councils to sell off any land they own. Since people regard space not only as desirable but – like health care, eating out or short breaks – something they want to buy more of as they get richer, the price of space inevitably goes up.”
The Government admits “the UK housing market is broken”. No other major economy has experienced such a large rise since 1970 in house prices compared to income. The symptoms include the rise in the number of family units without their own home, dramatic falls in the rates of owner-occupation, particularly for younger households and the rise in the Housing Benefit bill.
The UK government published a White Paper on 12th July outlining its preferences for a future relationship with the EU. In this blog we compare the proposals outlined in the White Paper against other EU free trade agreements (FTA) and also estimate the impact on the UK relative to our central forecast, published in August 2018, that assumes a soft Brexit.
Our results suggest that the UK is looking for a trading relationship that is similar in scope to the arrangement between the EU and Switzerland. If that is indeed the case, we believe that the EU will insist that the UK make concessions on the freedom of movement of people and also ask for a budgetary contribution to EU programmes related to the single market.
We estimate that the economy will suffer an annual loss of around £500 per head over time if the White Paper proposals are broadly agreed.
During the time of uncertainty before a coalition of populist parties formed a government in Italy at the end of May, there was a rapid sell-off of Italian bonds, with the yield on the ten-year Italian government bond hitting 3.2 per cent in early June. In the same period, the Italian benchmark FTSE MIB index declined by 13 per cent compared to a month earlier.
How do you tell a regular trade dispute from a trade war? The trade literature has not developed a textbook definition of the latter so far. However, recent developments on the global trade arena initiated by the current US Administration clearly indicate we’re leaving dispute territory and heading for a full blown war.
Today’s official immigration statistics show a fall in net migration from the EU to 101,000, the lowest level since the year ending March 2013.
In their widely acclaimed 1998 book Inside the Black Box, British educationalists Dylan Wiliam and Paul Black popularised the notion of ‘formative assessment’, highlighting the importance of how teachers provide feedback and use it to adapt their teaching to better meet pupils’ needs.
For more than twenty years, following the pioneering work of Martin Weale and our colleagues, NIESR provided the only published estimates of monthly GDP for the United Kingdom. Starting next Tuesday, 10th July 2018, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) will for the first time publish an official monthly GDP series.
Saving for retirement is something many of us put off. Putting money into a pension can sometimes take a back seat in comparison to other financial priorities in our lives. But quite often many of us are also inclined to delay starting a pension – not least because the decision as to how best to save for the future is not an easy one.
A new analysis of OECD survey data by researchers at Cambridge and the Institute of Education suggests that as many as 40% of adults in England and Northern Ireland are unable to calculate simple proportions and more than half are unable to interpret a basic line graph.
Worrying developments in Italy and elsewhere in the Euro Area underline the implications arising from poor management of fiscal risks. Fiscal policy can be a great way of sharing risks faced by households but there is an ever-present tension between acting now in the face of known shocks and retaining some space for future action in response to as yet unknown shocks.
NIESR was founded 80 years ago this week and it’s a time to remember those who contributed to the life and success of the Institute over the decades. One of our brightest stars is Professor Sig Prais who was closely associated with the Institute for more than 60 years.