Economics news – lunch with the Governor and a trip to the Isle of Manchester
It has been an interesting week, lunch with the Governor of the Bank of England on Thursday before catching a flight to the Isle on Man to spend the day as a guest of the Government Economic Development Office. Lots of key meetings crammed into a 24 hour visit to understand more of the great opportunities for cross trade between Manchester and the Isle of Man. More on that next week.
As for the lunch with Mark Carney, you have to admire the new regime at the Bank. Pragmatic, approachable, with a real understanding of the banking sector. The governor is skeptical about QE, has allowed long rates to decouple from short rates, understands low rates do not of themselves lead to a surge in investment and depreciation will not, of itself, lead to a boost to exports.
Indeed in the Budget for Greater Manchester, many of our “Ten challenges to economic thinking at the Bank of England” have largely been confined to the dustbin of economics history. (Along with many of the old theories of Governor King). Yes we welcome the regime change at the Bank and we are also supportive of Forward Guidance. My thanks to John Young for the invitation.
What is it about FG?
The great thing about FG, is that it marks the end of QE. For this alone we should be grateful. Analysts and commentators are having real trouble accepting forward guidance. William Buiter writing for Citigroup, describes FG as a “pleonasm”. I had to look it up! Pleonasm, the use of more words or word parts than is necessary for clear expression. How absurd. It’s just two words after all. WB then goes on to describe over 17 pages, using 12,000 words in the process, why this is so, with a bit of obtuse greek econometrics thrown in for good measure.
What does FG offer? During the recovery, the Bank will not move to inhibit growth by an early increase in base rates before certain conditions relating to employment and inflation have been met. FG is not “carte blanche”. It is state dependent not time dependent. The MPC reserve the right to increase rates notwithstanding the forward guidance. For the moment, it offers reassurance to businesses. Investment plans can be brought back to the board table, with rate risk evaluated, as the economic outlook clears.
GDP and UK Growth
and clearing it is. The GDP stats this week did not change the view of the economy over the first half of the year but the outlook for the second half is improving radically. In the GM Chamber of Commerce Survey for Q3 to be released next week, The QES Composite Leading Indicator® surged higher in the latest survey suggesting strong growth in the third quarter of around 1.5% rising to trend rate 2.4% by the final quarter.
The index measured 28.3 from 18.9 in the second quarter, higher than the peak levels recorded in 2007. As a result of this, we are upgrading our forecast for GDP growth in the year as a whole, to 1.5% rising to around 2.5% next year.
Why so positive? The outlook for orders and deliveries were much higher in the quarter in both the service sector and in the manufacturing sector. Growth was positive in both the UK and export markets but particularly strong in domestic activity. Businesses are less worried about interest rates and are revising the investment plans!
In the wider economy, growth, jobs, inflation, government debt and borrowing are all heading in the right direction. Only the trade figures will continue to disappoint. The UK cannot grow faster than Europe and the USA without exacerbating the structural trade in goods deficit.
World trade is also recovering. Flat in the second quarter but up by 3.6% in July, for the year as a whole we expect world trade growth of just over 3% well down on the pre recession growth of 5.5% but a recovery nevertheless.
The Nationwide House Price index confirms house prices increased by 5% in September. The increases confined not just to the South East but across the UK. In the North West prices increased by over 3%. The housing market is also recovering but for the moment, the overall level of transactions is still well down on the “boom” years. No need to worry about another “Boom” just yet.
Is this the right time to introduce, Help to Buy Stage 2 in the New Year? Of course not. This week the Chancellor invited the FPC to exercise more control over the Help to Buy scheme. A bit like handing over car keys and credit cards before heading out for a night on the town. Enjoyable in the short term with a bad hangover in the offing, the bank will move to limit the damage with higher interest rate spreads and capital provisions forthcoming. The FPC will ensure money is “put behind the bar”, to pin the profligacy.
What happened to sterling?
Sterling moved up against the dollar and up against the Euro. The pound closed at £1.6150 from $1.5994 clearing the 1.60 level intra week. Against the Euro, Sterling closed up at €1.1935 from €1.1840. The dollar moved down against the yen closing at ¥98.2 from ¥99.3.The dollar euro cross rate at 1.353 was largely unchanged.
Oil Price Brent Crude closed at $108.63 from $109. The average price in September last year was almost $113. We expect oil to average $110 in the current quarter, with no real inflationary impact.
Markets, slipped - The Dow closed at 15,258 from 15,451. The FTSE closed at 6,512 from 6,596. The Fed statement forgotten, markets are beginning to fret about the US debt ceiling. It creates volume if nothing else. What’s the problem with the ceiling? The plasterers will be called in to cover the cracks sooner or later, usually later.
UK Ten year gilt yields closed at 2.73 from 2.92, US Treasury yields closed at 2.63 from 2.79. The fed statement has now pulled long rates down by 25 basis points. Long rates are decoupling from shorts, returning to fair value. They are reluctant to leave, with pleas from the FOMC to “stick around” but leave they must.
Gold closed at $1,336 from $1,331. The bulls have it or do they? The news on tapering bought more upside gain but not much, we think gold will trade sideways for some time yet.
That’s all for this week, don’t miss The Sunday Times and Croissants out tomorrow.
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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.