Category Archives: Blog

Forward Guidance: whatever happened to Mark Carney’s big idea?

Do you remember forward guidance? That’s OK, not to worry — not many others do either. It was the policy launched to enormous fanfare by Mark Carney when he became Bank of England Governor in the summer of 2013.

It was about as simple a rule as one could expect from a central bank. The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee would not even consider raising interest rates until the unemployment rate dropped … Continue Reading ››

Car loans are now more popular than mortgages

Did you realise that Britons are now more likely to take out big, long-term loans on cars than on housing? I have to confess, until I looked into the state of Britain's private debt markets for my Times column today, I didn't. But, as you can see from the chart below, the proportion of new car purchases made with finance overtook the proportion of home transactions made with mortgages a … Continue Reading ››

Paying their way?

This morning two professors from University College London published a report tallying the cost to the Exchequer of immigration.

As occasionally happen when complex reports are inflicted on Fleet Street, the study elicited two vastly contrasting stories in today’s newspapers.

Version one, to quote the Guardian, was as follows: “Tax payments by European migrants far outweigh welfare”.

Version two, … Continue Reading ››

How the Government is misleading us with its definition of welfare, and why it matters

What goes through your head when you hear the word “welfare”?

Chances are you’re thinking of job centres, of unemployment benefit, of the housing allowances that fund the disadvantaged so they can live somewhere.

Well it turns out you’re only half right. The Government, it transpires, has a slightly different definition. Yes, its brand of welfare includes all those kinds of things, but also some patently other non-benefits stuff … Continue Reading ››

What if the Federal Reserve had decided to spend its trillions of QE dollars on other stuff?

So Farewell then, Quantitative Easing. The six most tiresome syllables in the English language have left the building. For the first time since the early days of the financial crisis, there is no major central bank around the world actively engaged in this experimental policy of creating money and buying bonds. And things may well stay that way — unless the European Central Bank presses the button on its own printing … Continue Reading ››

Whisper it quietly: the London property market is turning…

Every so often the New York Times gets a bee in its bonnet about the UK economy. Not all that long ago their main concern was George Osborne’s austerity policies, which they claimed were causing irreparable damage. Subsequently, in light of Britain’s rapid recent recovery, these complaints seem to have been discontinued.

The latest hot topic for The Gray Lady is the … Continue Reading ››

Britain’s rather expensive recovery

It’s a rum state of affairs when Britain is apparently punished for having a strong economy. After all, we’ve spent the past five or six years telling ourselves that all we desperately need is a bit of growth. And yet that’s how things look today, with the UK fighting off an attempt by the European Union to charge it an extra €2.1bn (£1.7bn) because of the strength of its recovery. As … Continue Reading ››

Q&A: why are markets falling?

Here's a Q&A on the market turmoil we've seen over the past few weeks, which you can also find on the Sky News website.
  1. Why are markets plunging?
Good question: as ever with global markets there’s no straightforward answer, but here are three likely factors: first, the economy in the Eurozone is doing worse than many had expected; so you’d expect share prices, which have raced away in recent months, to come down. … Continue Reading ››