Budget Preview – Restraint now, largesse later

Despite the improving outlook for the public finances, the rumours that the Chancellor will set himself some fairly stringent fiscal rules suggest that there’s not going to be a net giveaway in the Budget and Spending Review on Wednesday 27th But our forecast that the economy will emerge from COVID-19 with less long term scarring than the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) expects suggests the Chancellor will be able to cancel scheduled tax hikes and/or spending cuts before the 2024 election.
Paul Dales Chief UK Economist
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UK Economics Weekly

Christmas parties, Omicron inflation risks, MPC’s dilemma

Some tentative evidence may already be emerging that the Omicron COVID-19 variant may have softened economic activity. It’s less clear what it means for inflation and there’s a risk that it exacerbates current price pressures. That’s why we think the Bank of England’s interest rate decision on 16th December will be a closer call than markets seem to believe. They are pricing in just a 20-30% chance of a hike from 0.10% to 0.25%.

3 December 2021

UK Economics Update

Labour shortages to push up wages for a bit longer

The latest data suggest that the upward pressure on wage growth from labour shortages has a bit further to run. Admittedly, the discovery of the Omicron variant has clouded the near-term outlook for wages and the labour market, with higher virus infections and/or tighter restrictions once again a possibility. Nonetheless, our base case is that most of the upward pressure on wage growth will subside from mid-2022, underpinning our view that Bank Rate won’t need to rise as far as investors currently expect.

30 November 2021

UK Economics Update

Omicron – The risks to GDP and for the BoE

The restrictions announced by the government on Saturday in response to the new Omicron COVID-19 variant increase the downside risks to our GDP forecasts and the chances that the Bank of England delays increasing interest rates until next year. And although the worse-case scenario of another lockdown in January could reduce GDP by something in the region of 3.0% m/m, the one morsel of comfort is that the economy has become more resilient to lockdowns.

29 November 2021

More from Paul Dales

UK Data Response

Public Finances (Sep.)

September’s public finances figures mean that the Chancellor will be able to boast in next Wednesday’s Budget that he has reduced government borrowing much quicker than expected. But we suspect he’ll set himself some tight fiscal rules that will mean he won’t announce a major net giveaway next week.

21 October 2021

UK Economic Outlook

A taste of stagflation

The UK economy is experiencing a taste of stagflation. This won’t be anywhere near as severe or as persistent as in the 1970s. But for the next six months, the worsening product and labour shortages will put the brakes on the economic recovery at the same time as higher energy prices drive up CPI inflation from 3.2% in August to a peak of around 5.0% in April next year. The Bank of England’s growing fear that some of this rise in inflation is becoming embedded within wage growth and inflation expectations means it is on the cusp of raising interest rates from 0.10% for the first time since the pandemic. The markets have priced in increases in interest rates to over 1.00% by the end of next year. Our forecast that economic activity will be weaker than the Bank expects over the next six months and that CPI inflation will fall back to the 2% target in late 2022 and in 2023 suggests that interest rates won’t rise that far that fast.

19 October 2021

UK Data Response

GDP & International Trade (Aug.)

The 0.4% m/m rise in GDP in August confirms that the rapid gains in output, which in just 16 months lifted GDP from being 25.1% below its February 2020 pre-pandemic peak to 0.8% below, are now behind us. And shortages, including the petrol/energy crisis, may prevent GDP from rising much in the coming months. This weaker activity outlook may prevent the Bank of England from hiking interest rates this year.

13 October 2021
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