Good politics on wages meets bad economics

The government’s plan to decrease the UK’s reliance on migrant labour in order to boost wages may be good politics, but it is not good economics. While labour shortages may push up wages in some sectors, if they push up costs and prices then that will just squeeze the real wages of workers in the rest of the economy. Indeed, without a step-up in productivity, any push for higher wages is likely to mean higher inflation.
Neil Shearing Group Chief 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 Neil Shearing

Global Economics Focus

An anatomy of supply shortages

Current supply shortages have been driven by several forces which look set to persist for six to twelve months. They have caused sharp increases in some prices (most notably energy and used cars) and also limited output. Central banks are unlikely to respond to specific shortages and should only tighten policy if aggregate demand exceeds aggregate supply on a sustained basis. Since this seems unlikely in most economies, we still expect the pace of tapering and then tightening to be very gradual.

6 October 2021

CE Spotlight

The rebirth of inflation?

The debate over inflation has become polarised between those who expect a return to the 1970s and those who believe inflation is still dead. The reality is more nuanced and inflation outcomes are likely to vary between countries. A new era of higher inflation is most likely to emerge in the US and perhaps the UK. But we think inflation will remain extremely low in the euro-zone, Japan and China. In those countries where we anticipate a sustained rise in inflation, the most likely outcome is that it increases to moderately higher rates of 3-4%. But risks are generally skewed to the upside and there is a real possibility that inflation increases to a much higher rate that would, in time, necessitate a more substantial tightening of policy.

30 September 2021

Global Economics Update

A summer catch-up

The data released over the northern hemisphere summer break have suggested that economic recoveries in most countries have started to lose some steam. At the same time, while inflation is generally higher now that at the start of the summer, there are signs that it is nearing a peak in most places. Against this backdrop, while the major central banks have begun to discuss tapering asset purchases, the bigger picture is that policy settings will remain extremely accommodative.

2 September 2021
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