Data in the UK have taken an unequivocally positive turn. PMIs for services, construction and manufacturing are at 3 year highs. Furthermore, the underlying picture is healthy, with the new orders to inventory ratio for manufacturing surging to 1.4. This has resulted in growth forecasts being upgraded, including the OECD, which now sees annualized growth in 2H13 of 3.5%, compared to the BoE’s last estimate of 2.8%.
Data in the UK has been broadly positive, with much fanfare over revised GDP data showing the UK avoided the dreaded ‘double dip’. This is a trivial distinction; the reality is the UK is still bumping along the bottom. Manufacturing…
The aggregate real global policy rate is still firmly negative due to the commitment to low interest rates in the major G4 economies, but we are seeing notable divergence between economies. The UK remains a textbook example of stagflation while real rates also differ markedly between emerging economies.
The UK Treasury’s decision to transfer coupon income from the Bank of England’s Asset Purchase Facility is a step towards ‘fiscal dominance’, where the fiscal authority ultimately gains the upper hand from the central bank and we see monetisation of public sector debts and deficits.
Some cheer was reported when UK industrial production rebounded a stronger than expected 2.9% MoM in July. Manufacturing output also rose a stronger than expected 3.2% MoM. The longer-term picture, however, remains bleak.
The strength of sterling has been in part due to some safe-haven flows from the Middle East (where sometimes GBP is seen as a preferable safe-haven to the USD or CHF), but this is not the fundamental driver.
Fiscal austerity in the developed world represents a paradox. On one hand, it is necessary as governments had already borrowed too much going into the crisis and can thus no longer continue to lever up to compensate for private deleveraging. On the other hand, the objective of fiscal austerity is to stabilise exploding government debt to GDP ratios, but this is proving difficult as depressing government spending leads to a higher decline in GDP relative to the reduction in the gross debt level.
Despite an historic low Bank of England base rate, the spread between the standard variable rate (SVR) for mortgages in the UK and the base rate widened significantly in the aftermath of the financial crisis, and has continued to trend higher.
UK inflation has been falling, driven mainly by a fall in consumer demand, and last year’s VAT increase falling out of the year-on-year comparisons. Looking under the bonnet, however, reveals a disconnect between inflation of ‘necessary’ and ‘discretionary’ goods.