Kate Allen

The price of oil is at its most stable for decades, as rising US production helps offset supply disruptions such as the Arab Spring, according to research by BP that was released today.

The petroleum giant’s annual statistical review contains a wealth of information about many aspects of the global energy market. Read more

Kate Allen

Much of the coverage of the latest English Housing Survey figures has focused on the booming private rented sector. But there’s something interesting to be said about the social rented sector too. Namely, that social housing is ageing – maybe even dying.

Not just figuratively – the proportion of housing stock which is social rented has dropped from nearly a third in 1980 to under 17 per cent in 2013 – but also literally, in terms of its tenants.

The biggest group of tenants in social housing is not, as is popularly thought, the unemployed. It’s not the working poor either. The biggest group of tenants in England’s social housing is retired people.

By contrast, the biggest group in private rented housing is full-time workers.

As a result, social housing is dominated by older people – while private rented housing is dominated by young people. Read more

Kate Allen

Aberdeen’s economy is booming. The gateway to Britain’s offshore oil and gas reserves, it has long helped to buoy up Scotland’s economy. And now with a wider economic recovery kicking in, it’s acting like Viagra on the area’s house prices.

Property values in Aberdeen and the surrounding area grew faster than anywhere else in the UK in 2013, according to new data produced by estate agents Savills exclusively for the FT.

Aberdeen has even outpaced last year’s hotspot, Elmbridge in Surrey. Read more

“I haven’t achieved impact. I’ve got fame but no impact. My son tells me I have the [worst] fame-impact ratio in the world.”

It’s a little odd to hear Hans Rosling complain about a lack of influence. Can a man who is invited to speak to world leaders, bosses of some of the biggest companies on the planet and organisations such as the IMF – and who, in 2012, was included in Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world – really feel insignificant? Read more

Kate Allen

by Kate Allen, Keith Fray and Patrick Mathurin

What are the most used (and perhaps overused) charts of 2013? Read more

Kate Allen

Six of the ten most expensive streets to buy a home in England and Wales are in the London borough of Kensington and Chelsea, a study by Lloyds Bank has found.

The most expensive street was Egerton Crescent, which lies close to the Victoria and Albert and Natural History museums, where properties have a typical price tag of just under £7.4m. Read more

Kate Allen

By Kate Allen, Callum Locke and Martin Stabe

House prices in the UK are a perennial topic of interest. But different indices measure house prices in different ways, causing confusion among home-owners, who can’t be sure whether their house price is going up or down.

This has become particularly noticeable in recent years as the indices readings have diverged.

 Read more

Kate Allen

He calls it the biggest story of our lifetime – and he’s on a mission to make sure that everybody knows it.

Hans Rosling – rockstar data wrangler, global stats icon, Swedish health professor – will use a one-hour BBC TV programme on Thursday to try to convince us we don’t know what we think we know about the world.

This vital truth: the global population boom is fizzling out. “This is a fact that media have missed. It has failed to communicate,” Rosling told the FT.

The rate of growth of the world’s population accelerated sharply over the past half a century, leading to much rhetoric about over-population and exhaustion of the planet’s resources.

But, as Rosling will argue in tomorrow night’s programme, the world’s population is set to plateau by the end of the century. All that Malthusian rhetoric about the population timebomb? Redundant. Read more

Kate Allen

South Korea is perhaps the most over-educated country in the world.

More people are enrolled in its universities and colleges than are in the target age group for tertiary education. This is probably due to older people and foreigners. Read more

Kate Allen

Japan is set to raise its consumption (sales) tax for the first time since 1997.

The last time the sales tax rate was raised, the hike was blamed by some economists for the country’s subsequent slump into recession (though the Asian financial crisis was perhaps a bigger contributor).

Japan GDP Read more

Kate Allen

The Office for National Statistics’ release of data on UK share ownership has highlighted an important and far-reaching trend: the remarkable rise in share ownership by non-UK companies and individuals.

But the really crucial fact is that this comes mostly at the expense of the City’s traditional supremos: the insurance companies and pension funds.

Change in shareholdings Read more

It’s no secret that the US is at the centre of global trade. But how is what it trades with the world changing? The US International Trade Commission, the independent government agency which investigates anti-dumping cases in the US and also acts as a trade data clearinghouse, this week put out its annual “Shifts in US Merchandise” report. Here’s four things in the report worth thinking about:

1. Americans love their cars and their iPhones. They were the biggest contributors to the $10bn widening of the US trade deficit in 2012. Read more

Kate Allen

Provincial elections are about to take place in parts of Sri Lanka, in particular the nation’s Tamil-dominated northern province. This is a politically charged moment, as the government is gaining a reputation for being increasingly authoritarian and has faced UN criticism over its track record on human rights. Religious tensions are also mounting.

The elections are expected to be tense, particularly in the north which has been under federal government control since the late 1980s.

Any new period of renewed political wrangles could pose a threat to the country’s economy, which has recovered well since the end of the long-running civil war in 2009. Read more

Kate Allen

Global markets are holding their breath in anticipation of today’s vital monetary policy announcement by the US Federal Reserve.

Fed governor Ben Bernanke must decide whether to begin to ease back on its third programme of quantitative easing. The market expectation is for the Fed’s open markets committee to take a fairly timid step into the brave new world of tapering. Read more

Kate Allen

by Kate Allen and Sarah Mishkin

Apple’s simultaneous product launch in California and Beijing was the latest sign that the global brand is attempting to push into Asian markets.

But Apple’s foray into China has not so far been an unmitigated success. In fact, the brand seems to be struggling to seize the market.

Why is this? Here are six key points about the Chinese mobile market that might help to explain. Read more

Kate Allen

One of the most striking aspects of today’s data from the latest British Social Attitudes survey is the change in people’s opinions about mothers who work.

The proportion of people who believe women who work don’t damage their children has risen sharply since 2006, the last time the question was asked. More than three-quarters of people now support working mothersRead more

Kate Allen

An entertaining theory doing the rounds is that today’s surprisingly poor nonfarm payrolls numbers are due to a recent shutdown of porn studios in Los Angeles.

It’s certainly an interesting idea – and it’s true that there was a dramatic drop in the number of jobs in the motion picture industry in August. Read more

The census a beacon for statisticians and historians for more than 200 years – will be scrapped under proposals to be unveiled this month, prompting fears that policy making will suffer from the loss of valuable social data.
A consultation by the Office for National Statisticswill outline two options for replacing the census, which has been in operation in England and Wales since 1801.Politicians have complained in recent years that the census – carried out every 10 years – is too expensive. In 2011, it cost £480m and employed 35,000 people. Read more

Kate Allen

US economic growth has been revised upwards to 2.5 per cent. A pretty impressive rate, given that the UK is currently stagnating at just 0.7 per cent. On the other hand, it looks less impressive when compared to China’s booming 7.6 per cent (even though, for China, that’s a slowdown).

But wait a minute. Economists across the land are howling in pain at this jumble of misinterpretation. These rates aren’t comparable at all – because they’re all measuring different things. Read more

Kate Allen

The number of working-age households in the UK has fallen for the first time since data collection began nearly 20 years ago, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

Household growth has been fairly steady over the past two decades, with the overall population continuing to grow, and this is the first time figures* have actually dropped. Pressures such as low real wage growth and rising housing costs have created economic constraints in recent years which could help to explain the dramatic shift.

UK households

In particular, the numbers of single-person and lone parent households have fallen, hinting at housing affordability pressures. The number of couples with dependent children (under 18s) rose year-on-year, suggesting that families may be staying together rather than separating. Read more