Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Recovery in the UK?

A recent comment on the blog suggested that perhaps there was not much to write about, as the UK economy appears to be recovering. Bearing in mind that such stories are now appearing in the press, it is not surprising to see that this point of view is gaining some traction. For example, we have this from the Telegraph, reporting on the National Institute for Economic and Social Research (NIESR):
NIESR’s optimism was echoed by the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), which expects house prices to rise this year, in a startling reversal of its forecast that prices would plunge 10pc to 15pc in 2009.

A slew of positive economic data and an upbeat trading update from Carpetright – often seen as a bellwether for the economy – prompted analysts to predict the UK could emerge from the recession as early as the third quarter.
From David Wighton, of the Times, we have the following:
Still more convincing, the purchasing managers’ survey of services, the most timely and respected gauge of the economy’s most vital sector, shows expansion for a third month, and at the fastest pace since February last year.

The equivalent manufacturing survey shows that industry is rebounding too, and the fightback is affirmed by official data, with the biggest monthly output jump since October 2007.

Markets seem convinced — the FTSE 100 is up by a third from its lows plumbed at the start of March.

It all appears to be compelling evidence of recovery, does it not?

The truth is that we are witnessing a mirage. My first article for this blog was entitled 'A Funny View of Wealth', and I return in this post to the theme in this (very long) essay. The essay was written before the economic crisis struck in full force and, in the essay, I tried to find the apparent source of wealth in the UK, but found that there was no explanation except for a massive expansion in credit. Output of commodities were in decline, manufacturing output had remained static for many years, and export of services provided no explanation for the massive 'growth' that had apparently taken place in the economy. The remaining explanation was that the UK's growth had been built upon borrowing, and in particular borrowing from overseas.

We can now fast forward two years in time, and I can ask the same questions. Exactly what is the source of the current 'recovery'? Which sector is producing the growth in wealth creation to justify the 'recovery'. Let's start with manufacturing:

The chart above is the production index from the Office of National Statistics (ONS). It seems that, even with an uptick now, we are now producing significantly less than ten years ago. This is what the index of production covers:
The Index of Production (IoP) measures the volume of production of the manufacturing, mining and quarrying, and energy supply industries, which covered 17.2 per cent of the UK economy in 2005.
How the word 'recovery' might be applied to this is very puzzling. With regards to productivity, the picture is as bad, with this from the ONS.



As can be seen here, the UK is not in the midst of any kind of productivity miracle that might explain the sudden recovery.

The other potential source of real growth in an economy is in the exports of services. In the essay at the start of the blog, it was apparent that financial services were at the heart of the growth in services export, and the decline of the sector has been reflected in recent services export figures, with a negative trend appearing in the figures (raw data taken from the ONS here - series IKBB & IKBC & IKBD). Curiously, 2008 did see a moment of increase in the positive balance (in part as a result of an expansion in financial services exports! - see data here), but quarter 1 2009 reversed this. Overall, the picture is one of a continuing positive balance in the export of services, but still with nothing that might offer an explanation of the current 'recovery'. On the latest figures from the ONS, which takes us to Quarter 1 of 2009, there is no explanation for the recovery.

Then there is the overall trade balance, which has seen a shrinking of the deficit, but still an ongoing deficit. This from TradingEconomics:

The trade deficit continues, despite a substantial devaluation of the £GB since the crisis began, such as the decline against the $US (apologies for the poor chart). Devaluation has the effect, for example, of reducing the purchasing power of consumers within a country, and is therefore a real reduction in wealth of the individuals whose income is derived in the currency.



However, it is when we see the current account that the scale of the problem becomes really apparent, with the following chart from TradingEconomics:


If taken together, what we are seeing here is no growth in output from manufacturing that might explain a 'recovery', no growth in the export of services, and an ongoing current account deficit. It is hardly a picture of a 'recovery'. To this happy picture of 'recovery', we can add unemployment, with this from the ONS:


It is worth thinking about the underlying meaning in this chart. The proportion of working age people in employment is falling off a cliff. If people are not working, where is the output in the economy coming from? We know that there is no productivity miracle, so how exactly can an ongoing decline in working people explain a recovery? Where can real increases in output in the economy come from except from either a growth in productivity or a growth of the numbers in the workforce actually in work?

For regular readers, they will be aware of my cynicism about what GDP figures actually show, as they include activity from debt based consumption (see here for a full explanation). However, even this indicator, which potentially massively overstates the positive in an economy, looks like this:


So exactly what is the source of this recovery? Here is a summary of where we are at:
  1. There is no productivity improvement but a decline
  2. The number of workers in the workforce is in rapid decline
  3. Production is below the levels of 1998
  4. The trade balance of goods and services is negative, the trade in services remains positive but with no growth, and the current account balance is negative. On balance, we are still consuming more than we produce.
  5. GDP growth, a poor measure that exagerates the positive, is still negative. Even if it were to move to the positive, how much of the activity recorded comes from growth in debt?
Altogether, this simply shows that there is no sustainable recovery. A shrinking UK workforce is still consuming more than it produces, and productivity and output are still in negative territory.

So where exactly is the recovery? The indicators given as evidence of recovery are the slight uptick in manufacturing, which I have already dealt with, house price recovery, and the stock market recovery. The recovery proposed appears to the return to price inflation of two asset classes, but with no underlying economic justification for these that might be seen as sustainable.

So where is this 'recovery' coming from? Once again, I return to the theme outlined in 'A Funny View of Wealth'. The only real reason for any signs of 'recovery' is that there is yet another increase in debt. The only real difference this time is that the source of the borrowing is primarily the government, and that borrowing is expanding at a record rate. Again, from the ONS:



And how is the government funding that borrowing? By the Bank of England printing money, which is then used to purchase gilts (UK government bonds). The Bank of England has just announced yet another expansion of the so called 'quantitative easing' (QE - printing money) programme, which is primarily being used to purchase government debt. I have previously shown that the QE purchase of debt is propping up the UK bond market, and that it is the monetization of government debt.

What we are looking at is simply more delusion, more hiding from the underlying dire state of the UK economy. The 'recovery' is founded on printing money and more debt. I will quote myself from an earlier blog post, which in turn quoted an even earlier blog post. It is shocking that nothing has actually changed:
Quite simply, aside from the fact that a failure to fund the deficit would be catastrophic, what kind of 'recovery' is it, if it is being financed by borrowing 13% of GDP?

A long time ago, I made an analogy with a household to explain the absurdity of this notion. A household has been racking up huge debts due to too much expenditure on the 'good things in life', but continues spending. All the time the family's debt is increasing, and then the bad news comes. The wife's job is under threat, and the husband's working hours are being reduced. Their income is declining, but the cost and size of the debt is increasing. They are in deep financial trouble, and are borrowing more and more money in order to keep their lifestyle and also to make payments on previous debt.

It looks like the household is in crisis, and they will soon go bankrupt if they continue their profligate spending. Fortunately, so it seems to our irresponsible family, a visitor comes to their house from 'Dodgy Loan Corporation' and offers them a further and much bigger new loan. They look at the figures, and it appears that, if they accept the loan, the family will be able to continue to live the same lifestyle as they had before. A massive weight lifts off their shoulders, and they live happily ever after.....

We can all (I hope) see the problem in the happy ending. I have not mentioned the prospects for the family's income increasing in the future, and without a massive increase in income, bankruptcy will just be delayed. Sadly, for the family, there is no identifiable prospect of such a massive increase in income in the future, and they are just hoping that 'something will turn up'.
I keep wondering how long this can continue. How long can we delude ourselves that all will be ok if we just keep on borrowing more and more, even as our income declines. I keep on asking myself, 'when will we wake up to reality?'

32 comments:

  1. Lord Sidcup (ref your comment on the last post):

    Many thanks for the link. I have had trouble watching the video for some reason.

    However, one of the big shifts in my thinking was the acceptance of the degree of imperfection in markets. This was, in part, one of my inspirations for the fixed fiat system. I am still working on this, and it is apparent that it makes markets more transparent, and in conjunction with reform of how information is collected and sold, will improve the situation.

    However, as I stated in the post on the fixed fiat system, nothing will entirely stop delusional thinking, and bad choices. Even with ** less imperfect ** information, delusions, manias, and plain old skulduggery will still persist to some degree.

    All we can seek is to minimise these flaws.

    If I manage to see the video, I will comment further.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lord Sidcup & Lemming:

    I have now seen the video, and it is very interesting, and aligns with my views.The video can be found here:

    http://www.rand.org/pubs/conf_proceedings/CF264/#behaviorally_informed_financial_services_regulation

    For example, my requirement in my fixed fiat currency that financial organisations should not be unable to pay for rating their own products covers many of the problems that are out there. This means that commissions could not be earned on provision of financial advice. Under my system, ALL financial advice must be independent, and the system is also designed to increase the resource that would go into the research process.

    Likewise the disclosure to consumers was covered in my post on consmption and capitalism, though only in respect to borrowing, not investment:

    "However, there is a problem in the modern system of credit. One of the first points is that there is a system in which it is very complicated to work out how much debt we are really taking on. For example, cost of credit is often presented in terms of monthly repayments, rather than absolute cost. 'Interest free' credit is promoted to such an extent that it becomes irrational not to accept the credit. However, it is not interest free, as the interest is loaded on the goods upfront, thereby disadvantaging the cash buyers. This then encourages the use of credit.

    These problems can be addressed through legislation. For example, information can be better presented, with an emphasis on the actual real cost of the credit. Consumer credit law might be devised such that retailers can not charge less for credit than they themselves are paying for the cost of the money that they are lending (though this might be complicated to administer). Teaser rates, variable interest rates, and a whole host of other methods for potentially leading consumers into debts that they can not repay are also amongst the subjects that should be addressed. For example, how can a consumer know what their debt obligations might be on a variable rate of interest, when even an economist is unable to make that prediction? All of these solutions would likely see a shrinkage in consumer credit, but would not restrict the freedom of an individual to access credit. The central point is that the system should be transparent and allow people to make well informed decisions.

    This does not mean that individuals will not get themselves into financial problems. As with many of my posts, the emphasis is on provision of good and clear information such that individuals are making informed decisions. The government just sets out a framework in which costs are clear and transparent. For example, as there is no such thing as 'interest free credit', it is a fraud and should be exposed as such. It is not the role of government to protect fools, but to help individuals understand what the risks are in their behaviour."

    http://cynicuseconomicus.blogspot.com/2009/03/capitalism-and-consumption.html

    With regards to ex-post contract evaluation, I believe that the UK already has a provision for 'unfair' consumer contracts. As such, this just needs tightening in regard to financial services, in the ways that I have outlined above.

    Overall, it the video offers a good framing of the underlying problem, and one with which it is hard to argue.

    ReplyDelete
  3. The_Rational_MartianAugust 6, 2009 at 9:05 PM

    CE, very lucid and objective post backed with real numbers; my compliments are due to you.

    It is astounding that the experts do not care to review fundamental economic activity parameters such as net manufacturing/services, and ignore the "creative accounting" of including debt fuelled growth in GDP figures.

    In addition, I wonder if you've considered whether society massively misallocates its resources due to a misunderstanding/non-understanding regarding what "wealth" is (my definition: the hard resources and soft knowledge/skills that allow us to shape and control our destiny and environment). I have expounded this definition earlier on your blog.

    Based on this definition, whole sectors of the economy are simple empty hedonistic activities with no real return at all; the fashion industry, recreational eating, much of the "entertainment" industry are among many others.

    How much better off would we have been if these people/resources had been devoted to something useful (for e.g. development of novel vaccines, nuclear fusion technology development, nanotech etc).

    I'd be interested in your views on this subject.

    NOTE: I'm not advocating banning/taxing or otherwise circumscribing the abovementioned activities. What I'd like is a concerted discourse in society about the subject.

    ReplyDelete
  4. The Rational Martian:

    thank you for your comment.

    I have spent a considerable amount of time recently on the question of value, and how it is derived. I am coming to some interesting conclusions, but am not quite at the position to put them 'out there'. It includes some consideration of hedonic goods, so I will have to ask for some forbearance if I do not answer now.

    I am happy to see that you are not advocating a ban, and agree that we need to collectively hold a discourse on where are resources are going. The problem here is how people might be engaged in such a discourse. Like many people who comment on the blog, I do wonder whether we know what we are doing. Geoffrey Miller offers some interesting insight in 'Spent' which I read about two months ago. A summary can be found on Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geoffrey_Miller_(evolutionary_psychologist)

    However, I have recently been exploring consumerism across different times and different cultures. It seems that we exhibit the same behaviour in Ming China, Classical Greece, Renaissance Italy and so forth. Excess consumption of fripperies seems to be a universal once we have 'disposable income'. A lot more could be said on the subject, but time does not allow.

    Thanks for your comment, which is an interesting point.

    ReplyDelete
  5. A household has been racking up huge debts due to too much expenditure on the 'good things in life', but continues spending. All the time the family's debt is increasing, and then the bad news comes. The wife's job is under threat, and the husband's working hours are being reduced. Their income is declining, but the cost and size of the debt is increasing. They are in deep financial trouble, and are borrowing more and more money in order to keep their lifestyle and also to make payments on previous debt.

    If you factor in deflation, a rise in the real interest rate and money rising in value, you have just described two elements of debt deflation: loss of income through unemployment and cuts in wages.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Great post.
    You get the feeling this will be officially called a sharp recession with hopeful signs developing even when we are all reduced to eating grass (with the elite having the best fields of course)

    On the subject of being "economical with the truth"
    here is a report about US Treasury Bond auction demand not quite what it seems, as the Fed "merely a week after issuing $28 billion in 7 year bonds via its puppet, the US Treasury, of which $10 billion ended up being purchased by primary dealers, has turned and bought 47% of the primary allocated bonds in Open Market Purchases"

    Also note this happened after a auction after one with very poor demand. The question is has this happened at all over in the UK, and if so is there enough evidence to show it like in the US?

    http://www.zerohedge.com/article/feds-ust-pomo-pyramid-scheme-exposed

    Lefty Feep

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  7. CE wrote:
    "Excess consumption of fripperies seems to be a universal once we have 'disposable income'. A lot more could be said on the subject, but time does not allow."

    It might go further than that.
    I read a different Miller book called "The Mating Mind" (excellent book so I'll read Spent) which makes a good argument that the being wasteful/destructive of resources has evolved to become a desirable trait when humans select partners for mating.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Josiah Stamp's GhostAugust 7, 2009 at 5:10 AM

    Worth a watch. Funny how things seem to blatant decades after the event...

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99Dzdc1H0wM&eurl=http://www.garynorth.com/public/5266.cfm&feature=player_embedded

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  9. Josiah Stamp's GhostAugust 7, 2009 at 5:36 AM

    Can anyone point to an article giving a number on the total value of toxic debts that the banks are looking to offload? 800 billion? 4 trillion? What is it?

    ReplyDelete
  10. Arrrggghhhh...

    Just typed a massive comment then it disappeared. Too demoralised to type it all again right now!

    Thanks for excellent post though,

    T.

    ReplyDelete
  11. The_Rational_MartianAugust 7, 2009 at 10:03 AM

    CE, Lord Sidcup, thank you for your comments. CE, I look forward to your thoughts regarding hedonistic goods/activities and broader concepts such as value and wealth.

    Lord Sidcup, I'm vaguely familiar with the hypothesis you mention, I think a common example is the peacock's tail. For other readers, the hypothesis is that purposeful "wastage" of resources on expensive accessories such as the peacock's tail sends a signal to the opposite sex that the owner has such good genes(or surplus resources) that it is easily able to afford its tail. The tail thus becomes an easily identified proxy for genetic fitness/availability of resources.

    Returning to human economics, some fripperies might serve this signalling function (fast cars/jewellery); I presume this is what Lord Sidcup is referring to.

    My response is as follows:

    1) Not all "misallocated" activity fits this bill; recreational foods, or the entertainment industry, the red tape industry (you know what I mean) being some examples.

    2) As I see it, the signalling function has limited relevance, and does not justify the amount of resources being spent.

    Also, it seems really rather juvenile to go very far or try too hard just to ram home the point about having "money to burn", especially if you are burning borrowed money.

    I feel that a more likely explanation is that people in general are just slaves of obsolete instincts and do not bother at all to introspect about the purpose
    of those instincts and their relevance today. Consumerism (esp. in its pungent modern form) strikes
    me as the reaction of a species which still carries the subliminal memory of deprivation and is stuffing itself while the times are good instead of investing in the future.

    Do excuse me if this somes across as ranting, but IMO it is important to get society at large to ponder these issues.

    ReplyDelete
  12. CE: Have you read this eye-blinking view in response to the latest BoE QE gamble.

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/9e56602c-82bc-11de-ab4a-00144feabdc0.html

    "In context, the sums involved are not vast. But it is the symbolism that counts."

    The FT doesn´t seem to think 50billion is a vast sum. So how much is a vast sum?

    Is 140billion a vast sum?

    The reason I choose this figure is it is the gross income tax reciepts forecast for 2009-10

    Do you think they actually know what they´re getting into? And have they pulled the wool over the eyes of the press?

    ReplyDelete
  13. I've said it before, and I'll say it again - the country is bankrupt. All that keeps us afloat is the collective refusal to acknowledge it. Many people in deep debt ignore the warnings signs, put the unopened bills in a drawer and carry on regardless. This can go on for quite a while. Eventually the letters stop and actual people start turning up to take stuff away, and the cards stop working too. Reality kicks in.

    The bond holders can't turn up at Dover and demand cash or goods to the value, so we will face the second problem - no more credit. Eventually foreigners will lend us no more money. Then the whole thing unravels. Either the coat must be cut to fit the cloth, or they try to print the money to pay the bills a la Zimbabwe. Either way is not pretty.Tax rises & spending cuts totalling circa £100bn, or hyperinflation. Take your pick. Both end up in social upheaval, or even societal breakdown.

    The thing is that the whole world has a vested interest in not facing reality because so many nations face similar situations. If we go down, the domino effect will be rapid and catastrophic. The creditor nations face losing their savings if the West goes belly up. So they aren't going to rock the boat either. Everyone is putting their fingers in their ears and going 'la la la, I can't hear you'.

    It is very dangerous because one crack in the dam somewhere can unleash an unstoppable tsunami around the world.

    At the beginning of the year I made certain provisions for the breakdown of society. Nothing stupid, just a few plans that would put me ahead of the mob. I believe things are as dangerous now, if not more so, than last autumn when the banking crisis was at a peak. The longer you ignore a problem the worse it will be when it manifests itself.

    The BoE has extended QE to about the end of 2009 with its extra £50bn. So a breakdown is less likely until then. After that they face the same question - more QE, or stop? If they continue, they are that much closer to the point of no return. If they stop we are at the mercy of the bond markets. The end could come at any time.

    Do not under any circumstances mistake the current calm for the end of this crisis.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Lord Sidcup: I think you will find 'Spent' a good read, though the last chapters are more than a little troubling.

    Josiah Stamp's Ghost: Absolutely wonderful video! A must watch!

    Tiberius: Apologies for the problem. I am occasionally tempted to do as you have done and shift to a new service, but that presents a whole new set of problems.

    Rational Martian: The book by Miller makes the argument that you are making with regards to the resource devoted to signals. I think you will find it a very interesting read.

    Mismo: The FT author does appear to have been taken in...worrying really.

    Sobers: You are quite right. The problem is that they are now increasingly locked into QE. I am not sure that they can now stop, and the further they go, the more difficult to stop. I had hoped that the BoE would face down the government and call a halt before it was too late. A vain hope it seems....

    ReplyDelete
  15. There is a fascinating article here on why we are still in deep economic trouble:

    Entering the Greatest Depression in History
    More Bubbles Waiting to Burst
    by Andrew Gavin Marshall

    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14680

    ReplyDelete
  16. A sample:

    Something is inherently and structurally wrong with a financial system in which nothing is being produced, 600,000 jobs are lost monthly, and yet, the stock market goes up. Why is the stock market going up?
    The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), which provided $700 billion in bank bailouts, started under Bush and expanded under Obama, entails that the US Treasury purchases $700 billion worth of “troubled assets” from banks, and in turn, “that banks cannot be asked to account for their use of taxpayer money.”[33]



    So if banks don’t have to account for where the money goes, where did it go? They claim it went back into lending. However, bank lending continues to go down.[34] Stock market speculation is the likely answer. Why else would stocks go up, lending continue downwards, and the bailout money be unaccounted for?


    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=14680

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thank you for sharing a lot of things inside your blog. I'm looking forward for more of your updates. Thanks again. :)

    ReplyDelete
  18. The_Rational_MartianAugust 8, 2009 at 10:51 AM

    Thanks for the book suggestion CE.

    I have been wondering, is it feasible to measure "real" wealth in the economy, as opposed to the current unsatisfactory GDP figure, which also does not balance out the effects of debt? This could be based on the definition I have mentioned above.

    This might well involve some subjective judgement and a rather exhaustive trawl through the raw data, but I think a figure of this sort might be quite valuable.

    Thoughts?

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  19. Cynicus - if you are looking at consumerism over various eras, you might want to look at Spengler's "Decline of The West": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Decline_of_the_West

    (Don Keyes)

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  20. Yes this is spot on.

    About fripperies, one can of course argue that a life of providing the necessities of life is a little dull, and 'fripperies' are what makes life worth living. The trouble comes when it gets out of balance as perhaps is happening now - huge volumes of low-value stuff, not too much improving high art, and woeful neglect of the necessities.

    ReplyDelete
  21. How long can we delude ourselves that all will be ok if we just keep on borrowing more and more, even as our income declines. I keep on asking myself, 'when will we wake up to reality?'

    Of course the people who are borrowing the money, and the people who are continuing to lend us the money are the best brains in the business. They know all about allocating capital, risk etc., yet you acknowledge they are making fundamental mistakes left, right and centre. Sorry to go on about it, but if these people can't get it right, then how are the financial dealings of ordinary people somehow supposed to form an 'invisible hand' that provides optimum prosperity for all? It just doesn't make sense.

    I'm trying to think of an analogy that sums up what I am saying. Perhaps something along the lines of 99% of the people in the world driving their cars with chronic myopia. Usually it works, and unworried by distant hazards they even begin to drive faster than they would if they could see further - it actually seems to enhance performance. They sometimes make it to their destination with a few bumps, scrapes and wrong turnings, but they often never get there, crashing spectacularly with many dying in the wreckage. But they don't know any different. The 1% with 20:20 vision get killed too.

    Given that people have no knowledge or interest in globalisation, national debt, peak oil, inflation and so on, how can they be viewed as anything but short-sighted; blundering about bumping into things, going too fast and dying in spectacular pile-ups? The invisible hand idea is just wishful thinking.

    Sure, the free market system comes up with some nice stuff, but is it the collective wisdom of ordinary people that makes life comfortable for us in the West, or is it really just an inheritance of our military past, plus a global 'Ponzi scheme' sucking in more and more cheap workers and irreplaceable energy with no thought for tomorrow?

    ReplyDelete
  22. At what point does something become a frippery as opposed to something made for the purposes of wealth creation? For example, I would argue that an Aston Martin DB9 is a mere frippery, yet the persons manufacturing it, designing it etc would argue that it is wealth creation. The italian company that manufactured the fancy espresso machine in the 'eating as pastime' emporium would argue that they have created wealth, yet the only reason the machine was bought was for the purpose of supplying fripperies. I could go on. The point is that a large proportion of manufacturing is due to frippery consumption. So, if GDP was adjusted to take out 'frippery related' activity (i.e. making stuff to supply/support fripperies), then the 'real' economy is tiny. I would argue also that a huge portion of the world's co2 problem is frippery related too. Health problems are in large part frippery related. So, in conclusion, there is virtually nothing you can do for a living that is not frippery related - even power generation. The best thing that can happen in the long run is that the system falls and we start again from a more sustainable level and figure out how 2 billion people can get through life with nothing to do. Allotments anyone?

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  23. Mark

    I think you would like the interviewee on the World at One this lunchtime. He's in finance, but surprisingly is under no illusions about the health of the UK economy.

    ReplyDelete
  24. BBC's Robert Preston on QE:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/thereporters/robertpeston/2009/08/what_rbss_results_say_about_qe.html

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  25. The World at One interview with Terry Smith, head of Tullett Prebon can be found about 13 minutes 10 seconds into the following Listen Again programme:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00ly610

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  26. Cynicus, according to the last UK Balance of Payments press release from the ONS, "A current account deficit has been recorded in every quarter since the third quarter of 1998."

    According to CATO Institute the basic equation; Savings minus Investment equals Exports minus Imports, has to balance. As I understand it, if the right hand side of the equation is negative it has to be balanced on the left hand side by foreign income/capital.

    So how come the "balance" hasn't balanced for eleven years?

    http://www.statistics.gov.uk/pdfdir/bopbrief0609.pdf

    Great site, Acorn

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  27. It seems that investors are still hungry for UK debt:

    http://www.dmo.gov.uk/documentview.aspx?docName=/gilts/press/pr110809conventional.pdf

    Strange but true.

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  28. An FT article on Peak Oil

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/bed9186c-8514-11de-9a64-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1

    "If we imagine a review of financial security in 2006, the equivalent of the cursory dismissal of peak oil in the Wicks review might have read as follows: “Few authors advocating the toxicity of derivatives take into account factors such as the investment banking industry’s sophisticated treatment of risk, and the extent of the due diligence involved in awarding triple-A investment grading.”

    The FT’s Gillian Tett has argued that the banking elite cocooned itself in a “social silence” over the true worth of its assets in the run-up to the financial crunch. We worry that the oil industry is wrapped in a social silence on the depletion of its own assets. If we are right, a dire energy crunch awaits us and we need to act now."

    ReplyDelete
  29. Glad to see someone else thinking along the same lines. So much is spin and manipulation that it is difficult to rely on any figures to attempt comparisons with the past. The basic problem is the government's and media attachment to "Old Mother Riley" economics, that is try to function by taking in your own washing. I posted on this on Monday 25 May.

    ReplyDelete
  30. According to all the news outlets yesterday, the recession in Europe is over. The coverage seemed remarkably unequivocal unless you concentrated. On Newsnight, among the interviews with French people, and one of their politicians being asked "How have you done it?" there was the occasional "Assuming this is more than a blip..." and "There is still a long way to go until this can be said to be solid growth, but...". Bar charts showed quarter-on-quarter 'deltas' in GDP, strongly giving the impression of economies being back at the levels they were when the recession started. The UK merely looked to have "gone deeper" and was "recovering later". I don't think there are many of us who aren't now heaving a sigh of relief and getting ready to start 'investing' in 'properties' again.

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  31. Readers of this blog may find this an interesting read:

    http://edge.org/3rd_culture/rushkoff09/rushkoff09_index.html

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  32. I read this blog A Recovery in the UK the purchasing managers’ survey of services, the most timely and respected gauge of the economy’s most vital sector.
    *************
    samy
    Uk National Debt

    ReplyDelete

You are more than welcome to comment on the posts, but please try to stay on topic....I will publish all comments, excepting spam and bad language, and my moderation of the comments is just to exclude these.

Please allow up to two days for the comment to appear.

I have had a request for an email address for the site and have created the following:

cynicuseconomicus[at]yahoo.com

I have ommitted the @ symbol to avoid spam....

For general purposes I would suggest using the comment form, but will occasionally look at this email account. Please be clear what is for publication and what is not, though I will also not guarantee publishing of email comments, unlike the comments through the form! Thanks.