Of inflation and unemployment?
Job centers will be closing in 2017 …
This week the ONS released latest data on inflation and unemployment. The rate of employment growth is such, job centers will be closing in 2017, if current trends hold.
Unemployment falls …
Unemployment fell to 3.1% in June, (claimant count basis) and to 6.5% in the three months to May (LFS basis). The number of unemployed in June was 1.04 million. The rate of job creation has surprised not just our models but those of the Bank of England.
Spare capacity will be eliminated within the next three months. Claimant count levels will be back at pre recession levels within six months and job centres will be closing by 2017 - no-one will be looking for work. Is this realistic? Probably not!
Earnings remain at unrealistic levels if we accept the official data (sub 1%). The level of recorded earnings does not correlate with job levels. Neither does it sit well with evidence of household spending on car sales, retail sales and trends in the housing market. Our evidence on recruitment and skills shortages also infers that earnings should be on the increase. It is a strange world on Planet ZIRP!
As for the so-called Productivity Paradox, do we really believe our businesses are taking on more and more people to do less and less work - of course not. The economy is in danger of overheating based on job trends. Productivity absorption will improve as output increases but this will not really ameliorate the inflation impact! So what of inflation in June?
Inflation rises …
Inflation CPI basis increased to 1.9% in June from 1.5% in May. Service sector inflation increased to 2.5% and goods inflation also increased to 0.9%. The largest contributions to rising prices came from clothing, food, drinks and transport. We expect inflation to hover above the 2% level for the rest of the year assuming sterling tracks $1.75.
Manufacturing prices, increased by just 0.2% in the twelve months to June, slightly down from the prior month. Low world prices and higher sterling dollar values are easing the pressure on input costs. Metals, materials, parts and chemicals are all down in price, import cost basis.
Housing Market …
So what of the housing market this week? The Council of Mortgage Lenders released the latest gross lending figures for June. “The pace of lending slowed” according to the headlines. Commenting on market conditions in this month’s Market Commentary, CML chief economist Bob Pannell observes:
"The macro-prudential interventions announced by the Financial Policy Committee in late June are finely calibrated and precautionary, but could nevertheless reinforce April’s Mortgage Market Review in tipping the UK towards a more conservative lending environment.”
Yeah, thanks Bob. Lending was up by 20% in the first quarter, that’s an increase of almost 30% for the first six months of the year. Despite the interventions of the FPC we expect the volume of activity to increase by 25% this year and by a further 15% in 2015. Even then, activity will still be some 20% below pre recession levels. A great recovery but no real threat to the economic outlook over the medium term either.
So what of interest rates …
The Saturday Economist™ Overheating Index™, ticked higher this week as a result of the inflation and jobs update. Our overall growth outlook is unchanged but the chances of a rate rise before the end of the year ticked higher in line with the index.
So what happened to sterling this week?
Sterling closed down against the dollar at $1.709 from $1.711 but up against the Euro to 1.263 from (1.258). The Euro moved down against the dollar at 1.352 from 1.360.
Oil Price Brent Crude closed up at $108.40 from 106.90 from. The average price in July last year was $102.92.
Markets, closed up. The Dow closed above the 17,000 level at 17,100 from 16,900 and the FTSE was up at 6,749 from 6,690.
UK Ten year gilt yields were down at 2.60 from 2.61 and US Treasury yields closed at 2.49 from 2.52. Gold was down at $1,310 from $1,336.
That’s all for this week. Join the mailing list for The Saturday Economist™ or forward to a friend.
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The material is based upon information which we consider to be reliable but we do not represent that it is accurate or complete and it should not be relied upon as such. We accept no liability for errors, or omissions of opinion or fact. In particular, no reliance should be placed on the comments on trends in financial markets. The presentation should not be construed as the giving of investment advice.