Yield curves almost everywhere have been flattening. At the long end of yield curves, bonds have been rallying all year. This is to be expected in Europe, where growth remains lacklustre, inflation is very weak, and the ECB is firmly in easing mode. However, even in the UK and the US, where the market has been gingerly pricing in the beginning of (perceived) hiking cycles, long bonds have been rallying.
Much has been made of the made of Chancellor George Osborne’s success with austerity and the UK’s eruption back into growth, confounding his critics. However, ‘austerity’ has been more of a publicity exercise. Government spending as percentage of GDP has fallen only slightly, but is still higher than it ever was before the financial crisis.
We have seen strong coincident activity in the UK in recent months, helped in part by a government-engineered boost to the housing market, which has lifted consumer spirits and caused retail sales to surge. Our leading indicator anticipated this upturn in the economy, and it continues to see no blots on the horizon (ie over the next 6 to 9 months), although this month it has leveled off slightly rather than continuing to climb.
UK inflation last week came back to the BoE’s target for the first time since 2009. This should most certainly be a boon for consumers whose average real incomes have been negative for several years. However, our UK Future Inflation…
There are some notable reasons for near-term reasons for optimism in the UK. The housing market seems to be picking up, industrial production growth is looking up together with PMI data and the equity market has done well. All these are real and significant signs of a better economy in the UK, but the structural challenges remain.
Since tapering discussions pushed up yields in the US, this has led to a steepening of yield curves across the developed world. The US has seen the greatest steepening, which argues for higher growth in the US ahead. However, the…
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 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.