Our monthly estimates of GDP suggest that output grew by 0.6 per cent in the three months ending in May after 0.7 per cent in the three months ending in April. This is obviously encouraging, as the first real indication that the economy is growing at around its trend rate. Obviously we hope that the rate of growth will improve further but there are a number of factors which will impede growth in the coming months. One is that the Euro Area may be adversely affected by the spill-over from Greece’s debt crisis. Secondly, the United Kingdom has recently lost competitiveness against the Euro Area as sterling has risen. Thirdly, there are risks of renewed weakness to domestic demand as the UK’s fiscal deficit is corrected.
The National Institute interprets the term “recession” to mean a period when output is falling or receding, while “depression” is a period when output is depressed below its previous peak. Thus, unless output turns down again, the recession is over, while the period of depression is likely to continue for some time. We do not expect output to pass its peak in early 2008 until 2012.
Our track record in producing early estimates of GDP suggests that our projection for the most recent three-month period has a standard error of 0.1-0.2% point when compared to the first estimate produced by the Office for National Statistics. This comparison can be made only for complete calendar quarters. Outside calendar quarters the figures are less reliable than this and they are also likely to be less accurate in the current disturbed economic circumstances.
A paper describing the methodology used to produce the data was published in the February 2005 volume of the Economic Journal. From April until October 2006 our estimates were computed using the Index of Services published by ONS. However this monthly series shows considerable volatility which has caused us some problems in estimating GDP. From our November 2006 press release we have therefore reverted to using a model of private services output based on indicator variables. This means that, while all our figures for calendar quarters are fully coherent with ONS data, our estimates of monthly private service output are not. The series can be thought of as indicating the underlying value of the ONS series.
For more information please telephone Simon Kirby on 020 7654 1916.
Contents of Press Release
Table 1, Page 2: Summary Table of Quarterly Growth Rates showing Monthly Data, 3 months ending in that month, and Quarterly Growth (% per quarter). All contain Figures for Industry & GDP.
Table 2, Page 3: Output by Sector (Industry, Agriculture, Construction, Private Services, Public Services, GDP(B) (calculated at prices excluding taxes and subsidies), GDP
Table 3, Page 4: Output in Quarter Ending in Month Shown by sector (as above)
Table 4, Page 5: Growth in Quarter Ending in Month Shown over Previous Quarter (% at annual Rate) by sector (as above)