John McDonnell, the shadow chancellor, gave a speech last week lamenting that the liberalising policies adopted by the Thatcher government in the 1980s never led to widespread share ownership:
The Tories promised a “shareholding democracy” would arrive through privatisation. A “trickle-down effect” would mean that, even if the rich got very rich indeed, everyone else would be a little better off.
But the promises of freedom and “popular capitalism” turned out to be illusory.
Today, share ownership by individuals is at the close to the lowest level ever recorded. Just 12 per cent of shares are owned by individuals in the UK, down from 28 per cent in 1982, and pension funds own only 3 per cent.
It would be fair to call these figures misleading and point out that people can own shares through insurance companies or they might have a stake in other kinds of funds as well as their pension. So if between them individuals and pension funds own just 15 per cent of shares who owns the rest? Read more
Employment is growing in the Eurozone. There were nearly 3 million more people in employment in the third quarter of 2015 than there were two years before. Read more
Eswar Prasad and Karim Foda
The world economy is beset by a dangerous combination of divergent growth patterns, deficient demand, and deflationary risks. The latest update of the Brookings-Financial Times TIGER (Tracking Indexes for the Global Economic Recovery) reveals sharp divergences in growth prospects between the advanced economies and emerging markets, and within these groups as well. Read more
Keith Fray and Valentina Romei
During the six years from 2007 to 2013 the annual output of the Greek economy fell by more than 26 per cent. On the FT’s statistics desk we wanted to know how that fall ranked compared with sustained periods of economic retrenchment and dislocation in other countries. Read more
Guest post by Paul Hodges
Demographic change is creating major headwinds for the US economy, as confirmed by its disappointing first quarter GDP growth of 0.2 per cent. Consumption accounts for around 70 per cent of US GDP, and new data on household spending from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) demonstrate how the ageing of the US population is creating major structural change in the economy. Read more
Due to a mix of scarce resources, methodological difficulties and poor incentives, much of the data collected on the world’s poor is either inaccurate or missing. That’s one of the findings of a study being released today by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) at the Cartagena Data Festival in Colombia.
While the trend of falling poverty is genuine, the ODI think that numbers in poverty may be being understated by up to 350 million, more than the entire population of the US. 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.
The world is awash with even more debt than before the financial crisis. Use the FT interactive tool to compare countries’ debt levels 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
There are signs that the 40 per cent fall in oil prices might not deliver the expected stimulus. Chris Giles assesses the outlook for the global economy while FT reporters look at the prospects for key exporters and importers.
The UK’s information technology sector could be about 40 per cent bigger than previously though, with at least 70,000 more ICT companies in operation.
That’s according to the National Institute of Economic and Social Research who have come up with a pretty novel way of measuring the size of Britain’s tech sector using one of the industry’s most hyped concepts ‘big data’.
In the aftermath of the financial crisis the world saw an increase in the number of street protests. Many inspired by perceived connections between the political elite and business interests; Occupy Wall Street and Los Indignados in the west to the Arab Spring and the protests against Victor Yanukovich in Ukraine. A new working paper from the National Bureau of Economic Research presents evidence on their power.
Daron Acemoglu, Tarek Hassan and Ahmed Tahoun examines the correlation between street protests in Egypt and the stock market returns for firms connected to former president Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party (NDP), the Muslim Brotherhood and the Egyptian military. Read more
Even before the dispute with Russia began battering their economy, hundreds of thousands of Ukrainians fled their country looking for a better life elsewhere. Ukrainians are now the largest group of migrants from non-European Union countries applying for residence in the bloc.
Eurostat said on Wednesday that the number of Ukrainians issued with EU residence permits rose by 48 per cent in 2013. Most Ukrainians moved to Poland looking for work. In total 236,691 permits were granted to Ukrainians, which means that the country has overtaken the US as the most common source country for migrants to the EU — India has also overtaken the US to take second place. Read more
More people lived in urban than rural areas for the first time ever in 2007. This year it is estimated that 54 per cent of the world’s population live in cities and by 2050 it is predicted to hit 66 per cent, a mirror image of the two-thirds living in rural areas at the mid-point of the twentieth century. This is expected to come about as development fuels mass internal migration in Africa and Asia. The UN makes no effort to standardise individual countries definitions of urban: population numbers, density and the proportion not working in agriculture and other are all used by different statistical offices.
The price of salad is about to jump after prices for olive oil, lettuce and tomatoes have soared following a lengthy drought in Spain. Read more
The UK economy has finally recovered. Today’s estimate by the Office for National Statistics of gross domestic product for the second quarter takes output (adjusted for inflation) to a new high, above the level of the first quarter of 2008*.
Hurrah. But, although welcome, this is nothing to celebrate. The government will not be ordering church bells to be rung. That the sum total of everything produced in the economy is only now returning to the levels of six years ago is astonishing. To give some context, the recession and recovery have lasted about nine months longer than the second world war. Read more
Does knowing more about finance lead to making better investment decisions?
It might if you believe a working paper from the US National Bureau of Economic Research, published yesterday. By matching records from an unnamed company’s pension scheme and responses to a survey asking some basic questions about finance, they “find that risk-adjusted annual expected returns are 130 basis points higher for the most financially knowledgeable employees.” The questions used in the survey can be found in the quiz below. Read more
The Office for National Statistics has, for the first time, included estimates of the impact of prostitution and illegal drugs in the national accounts. By the ONS’ reckoning they add about £10bn to the British economy.
Estimates of anything to do with the black economy are always going to be uncertain at best, but the statistics available are pretty interesting. Read more
Before a measure of inequality can be calculated there are some questions that need to be answered: Chiefly, equality of what? Living standards? Wealth? Income? Or, perhaps, opportunity?
And what do you include? Is income measured before tax and benefits, or after? Do you include public goods in measures of living standards? How do you account for public assets and debts in wealth?
And who are the relevant people? The whole world or one country? Do you include students and children or just adults of working age?
The level of inequality measured will always depend on how these questions are answered.
The British Wealth and Assets survey, released today, provides measures of inequality in private wealth (so not including public debts and assets) between different households.
And households come in different shapes and sizes.
Individuals who are married or widowed are the most likely to live in a wealthier household. Whereas those who are separated, divorced or single are the least likely.