2013 protest in Manchester against widening pay gap © Getty
By David Oakley
Britain’s top 10 highest paid bosses earn more than a combined £100m in the most recent financial year. For these top earners, their £118.9m aggregate pay packet was 27 per cent higher than what they received in the previous year.
This – at a time when real household median incomes in the UK is only just returning to 2007-2008 levels – is likely to put executive pay firmly back into the spotlight as the UK general election approaches and shareholders gather at upcoming annual general meetings. Read more
Choices matter when measuring living standards. When looking at Britain’s living standards since before the recession, you can legitimately say incomes are back to the pre-crisis levels or still 10 per cent below those levels.
This post explains how (and the choices the Institute for Fiscal Studies made in its report this morning).
It showed UK living standards were back to the pre-crisis level. The IFS is an extremely reputable research organisation*. It also noted that the recovery in living standards has been painfully slow since the recession and household living standards still have not reached the 2009-10 peak.
I will show in this blog that definitions of living standards really matter, as do the choice of inflation measure, the choice of time period and the choice of average. It is perfectly possible and reasonable to arrive at a conclusion that living standards are 10 per cent below the pre-recession level with the same data as IFS used. This does not mean the IFS is wrong, but it has made choices that reduce the measured drop in living standards.
This is the IFS chart. Read more
Fancy yourself a fully paid up chart and data nerd? Well the Bank of England is looking for you.
To publicise the launch of a more open research agenda, the BoE is offering a £5,000 prize to the best data visualisation using one (or more) of six datasets it has added to its website.
Of course, potential entrants could be keeping their ideas top secret, but by far the dataset attracting most initial interest was the three centuries of macroeconomic research data, which makes a whole treasure trove of long run data – such as wages and prices from 1661 to 2012 – available to the general public.
Politicians of all hues will be looking more closely – and more nervously – than normal at the official public sector borrowing figures out this morning.
This is Chancellor George Osborne’s last chance to get a substantial tax bump in the public finances before the election to achieve the deficit reduction he’s put at the heart of his political programme.
So far this year the government has borrowed nearly the same as the previous one, despite strong economic growth. It is banking on getting a big boost from self-assessment taxes this month, which could give Mr Osborne considerably more room to manoeuvre at the Budget.
If the uplift doesn’t come in strongly, in the biggest month of the year for receipts, it will become nearly impossible for the government to meet this year’s borrowing targets and fuel concerns there has been a structural decline in income tax receipts.
1. Self- assessment income tax receipts
The Treasury has been banking on January being a bumper month for income tax receipts, because of the behavioural changes around the dropping of the top rate of income tax.
In the spring of 2013, a number of higher-rate taxpayers moved their income from the 2012-13 tax year into the 2013-14 tax year to take advantage of the cut in the higher rate of income tax from 50 to 45p. Read more
(c) Getty Images
The Bank of England is studiously non-party political. But with the UK economy – and the cost of living – centre stage in an election campaign that is steadily ramping up, the central bank’s quarterly inflation report on Thursday will be more closely scrutinised than usual. Read more
US honey prices are continuing a steady upward trend with year-on-year prices in early February 13 per cent higher as a result of increased demand and lower domestic production.
Production of US honey has been falling year-on-year, with the latest figures from commodities data firm Mintec showing 67,800 tonnes of honey were produced in 2013, down 5 per cent year-on-year and 35 per cent lower than output levels of 20 years ago, mainly due to a decline in bee colony yields.
As a result of a supply and demand imbalance, imports into the US have been rising steadily, with volumes in 2013 reaching 153,750 tonnes, up 8 per cent year-on-year, and totalling about 65 per cent of US supply. Read more
David Cameron is taking a leaf from Shinzo Abe’s book. “It’s time Britain had a pay rise,” the UK prime minister plans to tell business leaders on Tuesday (unlike the Japanese prime minister, he will deliver his message in a speech rather than over a few rounds of golf.) It seems like a political no-brainer with an election in May and a workforce that has suffered six years of real terms pay cuts. But is it really that simple? And what can Mr Cameron do about it anyway? Here are six charts that explain what is really going on.
1. It’s true that UK workers have suffered a brutal real-terms pay cut since the crisis.
Roger Federer was eliminated from the Australian Open when he lost a match in which he won the majority of the points.
Was it a one-off, or a sign of an underlying issue? And how does his rival Rafael Nadal compare when it comes to winning the biggest points in tennis? Find out in our interactive graphic Read more
From General Motors in the 1950s, to Apple today, the list of the top US companies by net profits tell a story about how the American economy has changed through the ages. Explore this history with our interactive graphic. Read more
Earlier this week the charity Oxfam released a paper ahead of the world economic forum in Davos that claimed that the wealthiest 1 per cent of the world’s population were on track to own half the world’s wealth by 2016.
Others have pointed out problems with this data. To calculate an individual’s wealth the Credit Suisse data takes debts away from assets to give a figure for net wealth. Anyone with debts greater than their assets has negative wealth. Read more
By David Blood and Aleksandra Wisniewska
More than 2,500 people are attending the World Economic Forum in Davos this week, but how are they connected outside of the picturesque alpine town?
156 players have reached the top ten of the ATP men’s singles rankings since they were established in 1973. How do they compare on success and longevity?
Find out in our interactive graphic Read more
The weakening rouble and the recession will cause a 24-per cent contraction in new cars sales in Russia this year, to the levels last seen in 2009. Read more
Renewables outstripped lignite, the most polluting form of coal, as Germany’s top power source for the first time ever in 2014.
This was a big milestone for the country’s energy transition, or Energiewende, which aims to use renewables for 80 per cent of Germany’s energy needs by 2050, and to stop using nuclear energy by 2022. Read more
It is said that money makes the world go round, but in football’s transfer market we can be a little more specific on that money’s provenance. Our interactive graphic explores the net spend of the 265 clubs in world football to have each spent £10m or more in total since 1980, grouped by country.
Any guesses on the identity of the country whose clubs spend the most? Read more
The monetary and fiscal stimulus initiated by Shinzo Abe, the prime minister, over the last two years was sufficient to push inflation up closer to the Bank of Japan’s target of 2 per cent by April 2015, after decades of low inflation and deflation. Read more
Norwegian salmon prices dipped last week after increasing sharply in the past month — they are still up 30 per cent since September — despite Russia’s retaliation against EU and US sanctions and helped by soaring seasonal demand for the Christmas and new year holidays.
Prices have been falling as warm seas, which increase fish growth rates, led to larger quantities coming on to the market earlier in the year than expected, according to Mintec, the commodities data analysts, but fewer fish are currently being kept on farms.
In May the volume on farms was up 10 per cent year-on-year but the stocks fell, however, to only 1 per cent ahead in October and are expected to have fallen even further in November, the analysts said. Read more
Overall the BRC-Nielsen shop price index, which measures the changes in prices of 500 commonly bought items, records a fall in prices of 1.9 per cent year on year. Non-food prices fell by 2.9 per cent in November while food fell by 0.2 per cent.
The news comes after data from the Living Costs and Food survey — released on Tuesday — showed the extent to which living standards were squeezed following the financial crisis. Spending on housing, fuel and power became the largest category of spending in 2011 as increasing energy bills and a greater proportion of the population became renters. At the same time transport, the previous highest category, fell as more drivers economised due to higher petrol prices. Read more
A question, dear reader. You are setting out to measure gender inequality. One of the indicators in front of you has a gender splt of 49/51. Another has a 72/53 divide. Which of the two is more redolent of a happy, inequality-free nirvana?
If you’re the World Economic Forum, the answer is the latter. Welcome to the Orwellian world of the WEF’s annual Gender Gap Report. Read more