UK GDP growth remains sluggish

Latest figures from the Office for National Statistics show the UK economy saw a small pick-up in GDP growth, but the overall environment remains sluggish. The preliminary estimate shows second quarter GDP growth at 0.3% compared to 0.2% in the first quarter, and matching consensus expectations. To put the recent growth figures into context, the … Continue reading “UK GDP growth remains sluggish”

Curve ball

Governments aren’t the only things proving to be less than strong and stable these days. Take the Phillips Curve, which describes the relationship between unemployment and wage growth. As unemployment falls, using up spare capacity in the labour market, it makes intuitive sense that wage growth starts to pick up. Given the key role played … Continue reading “Curve ball”

Has unconventional monetary policy had its day?

“People will always try to stop you doing the right thing if it’s unconventional,” so said Warren Buffett in an interview for Time magazine in 2008.  Buffett wasn’t referring to monetary policy specifically, but there’s some truth in his adage if we apply it to the more controversial tools that central banks have used since … Continue reading “Has unconventional monetary policy had its day?”

China: policy support offsetting structural headwinds

Despite concerns that China’s economy was undergoing a ‘hard landing’ in January 2016, fiscal, monetary and other government policy stimulus ensured that it was growing slightly faster at the end of the year than it had been at the start. Nevertheless, with the country in the middle of a structural transition from investment towards consumption, … Continue reading “China: policy support offsetting structural headwinds”

Japan: a leveraged play on global growth?

Japan’s nascent economic recovery is showing encouraging signs, with some strength in the labour market and a favourable corporate environment. However, domestic demand remains weak and it appears that cultural headwinds will have to be addressed before a virtuous circle of rising domestic demand and inflation can begin. Meanwhile, Japan’s asset markets are being distorted … Continue reading “Japan: a leveraged play on global growth?”

A decade to forget for savers

It is a decade since the start of the financial crisis. What started in the US housing market later engulfed the global economy and is having an enduring legacy on the UK – perhaps most notably on savers. The first signs of the financial crisis emerged in April 2007 when New Century Financial, a US … Continue reading “A decade to forget for savers”

Foreign exchange: a major contributor to portfolio returns

In recent years, subdued global inflation and weak growth have allowed the world’s major central banks to keep monetary policy at extremely accommodative levels. However, this may be changing, as global growth and inflation forecasts have risen amid a shift towards fiscal stimulus in a number of developed economies. With the Federal Reserve (Fed) simultaneously … Continue reading “Foreign exchange: a major contributor to portfolio returns”

Trump in the White House – all expectations out the window

The election of Donald Trump as the next US president has been a game-changer thus far for fixed income markets, upending all expectations of what will happen next. One thing is for sure, though: Trump’s policies will have a major, far-reaching impact on bond markets. Trump has promised two broad changes – greater fiscal stimulus … Continue reading “Trump in the White House – all expectations out the window”

Will politics shake the global economy out of its torpor in 2017?

The strains of a global economy mired in a low growth, low inflation and low interest rate regime are showing. Populist, anti-establishment and anti-globalisation sentiment is on the rise across the developed markets. If this leads to a marked deterioration in the quality of economic decision making, it could spell the end of a seven-year … Continue reading “Will politics shake the global economy out of its torpor in 2017?”

Sterling and US politics take centre stage in October

Sterling endured a torrid October against a backdrop of ongoing uncertainties surrounding the UK’s Brexit plans. The pound fell against the US dollar to reach its lowest level for over 30 years during the month, and against the euro to reach its lowest level since 2011. During October, Prime Minister Theresa May confirmed that she … Continue reading “Sterling and US politics take centre stage in October”

The 3 Rs of India: reforms, RBI and (US) rate hikes

It’s been a really busy quarter for reform hasn’t it? Reforms in India are like buses: none appears for ages and then several arrive at the same time! Well that’s not quite true because change was taking place but it was of the incremental, under-the-radar sort. That’s one reason why India jumped 16 places in … Continue reading “The 3 Rs of India: reforms, RBI and (US) rate hikes”

Infrastructure spending: What’s not to like?

Is it time for an infrastructure push? The International Monetary Fund (IMF) thinks so, and we agree. Public infrastructure investment not only provides a short-term lift to demand; it also helps economies to grow faster without hitting capacity constraints. And to these two benefits, we would add a third: increased infrastructure spending could help relieve … Continue reading “Infrastructure spending: What’s not to like?”

How effective is central bank innovation?

The overhaul of the Bank of Japan’s monetary policy framework at its September meeting marks the latest in a long line of innovations made by the world’s major central banks in the years since the financial crisis. No one can rightly accuse central banks of being short on ideas to stimulate their economies and raise … Continue reading “How effective is central bank innovation?”

The falling currency: A welcome adjustment?

It turns out we were in a false reality. No-one believed that Brexit was really going to happen. The response to comments by Theresa May at the Conservative Party conference – and the realisation that Brexit is not only going to happen, but likely to be ‘harder’ than expectation – has been a plunge in … Continue reading “The falling currency: A welcome adjustment?”

Keynesian vs. Monetarism

There have been two schools of thought in the history of economics; Keynesian and Monetarism. The former rests on the belief that government actions can determine growth in the economy, spending money on say infrastructure projects when demand is slack and reining back once the economy picks up. Monetarism on the other hand believes the … Continue reading “Keynesian vs. Monetarism”