Economics

Emily Cadman

A deal with cash-strapped Ukraine was originally supposed to be the centerpiece of today’s “Eastern Partnership” EU summit in Lithuania. But last week Ukraine froze plans to sign the EU integration agreement in favour of overtures from Russia.

The trade deal with the EU was expected to stimulate much-needed investment flows to Ukraine and exports via the removal of trade tariffs. But as this was contingent on reforms, benefits were likely to be longer term. A deal with Russia on the other hand – potentially a lowering of the price at which the country imports gas – could give a short term fillip to the economy.

Here is why Ukraine’s economy desperately needs a boost.

1. Reserves

First, and most crucially, is the question of Ukraine’s falling foreign exchange reserves.

As of October, foreign reserves stood at $20.6bn, down $6bn in the last year and only just covering three-months worth of imports – a level seen as the danger zone by many economists. And even under the most benign scenario projected UniCredit modeled this August see reserves falling further: Read more

Emily Cadman

The new radio series from Sir Andrew Dilnot, chair of the UK Statistics Authority, is an entertaining, accessible look at Britain’s social history – and one that readers of this blog will probably find rather interesting.

(c) Financial Times/Shaun Curry

Sir Andrew opens the first episode declaring “It is about us, not governments”, and that is the theme running through the series. With a mixture of single statistics, and interviews he tries to build a picture of changes in the life of ordinary British people, rather than looking at policy.

With each episode clocking it at around 15 minutes, and the timeframe running from medieval times to the current day, the programme aims for historical sweep, rather than contemporary analysis. Read more

Emily Cadman

After five years of historically low interest rates across the US, UK and eurozone, Wednesday’s vastly improved job forecast from the Bank of England raised the prospect of a return to more normal monetary policy.

A report out today from McKinsey attempts to quantify the impact of years of ultra lose monetary policy has been on the winners – and losers. Whilst there are few surprises in the report, it does attempt to put numbers on the winners and losers.

Unsurprisingly, it is governments that come out on top. The consultancy estimates that between 2007 and 2012 the US, UK and eurozone governments collectively benefited to the tune of $1.6tr from lower borrowing costs and the increased profits from central banks.

For consumers though it is a mixed bag. Read more

Kate Allen

The rupee is tumbling once more – and for those with long memories, this all looks rather familiar.

In 1991 investors deserted India as turbulence descended: prime minister Rajiv Gandhi was assassinated and what’s now known as the Balance of Payments Crisis gripped the country.

The episode was enough to put a serious dent in the country’s booming economic growth.

India GDP

What caused it? Read more

Britain’s official statistics agency, in its analysis of how median income households have fared over time, has found a small consolation for those on the eastern side of the Atlantic. While UK income inequality is rising, middle-earners’ incomes are more closely related to economic growth than in the US.

The Office for National Statistics used inflation-adjusted data from the US Census Bureau and International Monetary Fund that cover the years 1984 to 2008. It found that US median equivalised disposable income grew at less than half the rate of its GDP per person. For example, by 2008 – the latest year for which data are available – US GDP per person had grown by 55.3 per cent while median incomes had only grown by 26.1 per cent since 1984. Read more

Valentina Romei

The number of self-employed in the UK rose by 60 per cent between 2011 and 2012 and now accounts for about 14 per cent of all people in employment.

This is a striking contrast with the rest of the OECD countries where the proportion of self-employed is generally declining. In 2011, there were between 2 and 5 percentage points fewer self-employed in South Korea, Turkey, Portugal, Japan and Italy than six years before. Most of the other OECD countries reduced their proportion of self-employed even if more slowly. Read more