Monthly Archives: July 2013

The US economy has gained some pounds.

The national accounts have undergone their most extreme methodological makeover in years and the results not only show that the world’s largest economy is bigger than previously understood, but the 2008-09 Great Recession was not as deep either. Read more

For all the antipathy that migrants are generating in Europe, a look at the numbers suggests they may be sorely needed. In much of the European Union, migrants are filling the ranks of the working age population, particularly in countries where the number of those aged 20 to 64 has been falling as a percentage of the total population.

Moreover, the data show a persistent pattern: migrants, as a percentage of population, are highest at the youngest working ages, peaking in most countries at 30 to 35 and falling thereafter. Read more

Kate Allen

Potentially historic elections are about to take place in Zimbabwe.

Former opposition leader and current prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai will be seeking to oust longstanding president Robert Mugabe, with whom he has jointly ruled for the past five years. Read more

This week, Britain is baby obsessed. But amid all this fascination with the new prince, there is a bigger question that investors might do well to ponder: namely, where are babies not being born right now, in the western world?

A striking report that has just emerged from Eurostat, the European statistical agency, shows that a subtle gap has emerged in the fertility trajectory of different European countries during the past couple of decades. In regions such as Spain and Italy, fertility rates have declined sharply since the 1970s (albeit from relatively high postwar levels.) However, in the core countries of the eurozone, such as Germany and France, fertility rates have been flat or even risen.

More interesting still is the recent picture. Between 2008 and 2011 the fertility rate in Austria rose a little, while in France it stayed unchanged and in Germany and the Netherlands it declined a touch. However, the fertility rate in Spain, Greece and Ireland has notably fallen. And the contrast among some population groups is stark. In Germany, the fertility rate among unemployed women has risen since 2008, for example, perhaps because the crisis created “a window of opportunity for child-bearing”, as a research note from Jefferies, the broker suggests. “In Spain, however, the opposite has happened and the fertility rate for this group of women has actually collapsed.” Read more

by Roger Blitz, FT leisure industries correspondent

Uefa has revealed the breakdown of revenues from the 2012/13 Champions League for the 32 participating clubs. The striking feature is that Juventus topped the table by some distance – despite going out in the quarter finals. Read more

Chris Cook

Charles, William, George. If all goes to plan, and God does, indeed, save our Kings, Britons now know the names of the men who will be head of state for the 21st century. But Ben Goldacre, the science writer, asked a good (if morbid) question: what chance does any one of us have of being alive when George finally takes to the throne? Thanks to Matthew Fletcher, a senior consultant at Towers Watson, a global actuarial firm, we now know.

You can get your precise numbers here, and read on to see how your odds were calculated

First, here is the likely probability distribution about when he will get under the crown. This makes a few assumptions that the royals age much like the rest of us, will not abdicate and that culottes-free Britons won’t storm Sandringham any time soon.

Again, assuming no chopping and changing, he also worked out the probability

  • that George follows on straight from Elizabeth – 0.1 per cent
  • that George takes over from Charles – 4.7 per cent
  • that George follows William – 88.6 per cent
  • that George is never king – 6.6 per cent

 Read more

Chris Cook

The Freedom of Information Act has a clause which allows public authorities to ignore a request for information “if the request is vexatious”. It says little about what members of the public can do if they encounter vexatious government departments.

The Cabinet Office – which includes the prime minister’s office – seems now to be openly refusing to comply with the transparency law, especially when it comes to the person of the prime minister. His courtiers seem to regard FoIA requests as lèse-majesté, and to see fighting transparency as part of their roles. Read more

Kate Allen

It’s a boy!

Britain is in the throes of Royal Baby Mania as it celebrates the birth of Prince William’s first child – a son, and future heir to the throne. What effect will the naming choice of new parents William and Kate have on the rest of the country? Read more

What’s the world’s most popular tipple?

It’s likely you won’t even have heard of it, let alone tried it. The world’s biggest-selling brands of spirits come from emerging markets – but they face increasing international competition, according to new research. Read more

A press release from the Department for Work and Pensions on Monday boasts that “the government’s wage incentive scheme has encouraged UK businesses to offer over 21,000 jobs to young people at risk of long-term unemployment”.

This sounds like great news. Youth unemployment remains persistently high. But a look at the statistics suggests the government’s claims are cause for scepticism.

Since April last year employers have been offered temporary wage subsidies worth up to £2,275 to encourage them to employ 18-24 year olds on the Work Programme, the government’s flagship scheme for trying to get young people into jobs. In July and December, eligibility was broadened: now employing any 18-24 year old who has been on benefits for more than six months can earn employers a subsidy.

The 21,000 claim by the DWP refers to the number of subsidy forms submitted by employers under the “youth contract”. An application can be made when a young person starts a job. As you can see from the table below, the numbers were steady at about 1,000 a month before increasing after the youth contract eligibility was widened.

 

Month Job starts
Apr-12 490
May-12 720
Jun-12 840
Jul-12 1,060
Aug-12 1,030
Sep-12 1,120
Oct-12 1,350
Nov-12 1,200
Dec-12 880
Jan-13 1,160
Feb-13 2,000
Mar-13 2,660
Apr-13 2,780
May-13 4,180
Total 21,460

Source: Management Information (from Work Programme providers and Jobcentre Plus Labour Market System)

However, starting a job is not the same thing as staying in a job.

 Read more

Kate Allen

“No, I don’t mind working, but I do mind dying”, the Detroit blues singer Joe Lee Carter sang in 1965. The song exemplified the bustle – and tensions – of a burgeoning industrial city. Carter was working on the production line at Ford’s Rouge plant at the time.

Unfortunately for today’s inhabitants, there hasn’t been much opportunity to work in Detroit in recent years – and there has been all too much chance of dying. Read more

Kate Allen

by Keith Fray and Kate Allen

England’s cricketers are battling Australia once again in an Ashes series. It started well – but with the second Test ongoing, the series is still up for grabs. Read more

Kate Allen

It’s often said that London is “full up”. But is this true?

At 8.3m people – more than 13 per cent of the total British population – London is booming. Many fear the pressure this is putting on services, infrastructure and housing. Heathrow airport is struggling to keep up with demand.

But the population of London isn’t that big, in relative terms – it isn’t even at a historic high. Read more

Anyone wondering why the issue of paying for long-term care is rising so swiftly up the political agenda need look no further than the latest UK census.

Much of the conversation about older people to date has revolved around estimates of the future numbers of elderly who will need care. Projections for the number of over-85s by 2031 have been steadily revised upwards in the past couple of decades:

2013 aging projections

But there has been little focus on what has already happened. Read more

Kate Allen

by Kate Allen and Simon Rabinovitch

The latest Chinese GDP figures leave little doubt that the days of double-digit growth for the world’s second-largest economy are well and truly over. Read more

Kate Allen

Marks and Spencer is facing troubled times, seemingly unable to stem the tide of customers flocking away from its clothing lines. This is just the latest development in a trend that M&S has been seeing for the past couple of years.

M&S like for like Read more

Kate Allen

by Claire Jones and Kate Allen

As today’s FT reports, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors’ latest poll of their members shows that the industry is very optimistic. They believe that activity in the housing market will rise dramatically in the coming months.

But how confident should we be that the surveyors have got it right? Read more

By Paul Hodges

Working women supercharged western economic growth from the 1980s, as they created the phenomenon of dual-income households for the first time in history. But today, this trend is reversing as women’s participation rates decline and their earnings plateau relative to men.

This major change risks undermining a key part of the US Federal Reserve’s strategy, which assumes that reducing the US unemployment rate to 6.5 per cent will help restore economic growth. The chart shows the reversal now underway:

 Read more

Kate Allen

Today’s nonfarm payrolls data has got the markets in a flap as they contemplate the prospect of the US Federal Reserve beginning to taper down its quantitative easing programme.

But hold on a sec. The data are good – but not that good. Read more

Kate Allen

Just two years after the fall of Hosni Mubarak, Egypt is again facing a period of vast uncertainty. At the centre of it all is an economy that has been struggling to recover since the 2011 revolution.

Here are 10 charts that set out what happened in 2011 – and the extent of the challenge facing the generals as they take controlRead more