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Claire Jones

This blog will no longer be updated.

Our thoughts on all things central banking, along with the more wonkish elements of economic policy, will appear on Alphaville and The World blogRead more

As Iraq appears to be descending into all-out sectarian war, the implications for the oil-dependent economy are huge. Iraq is Opec’s second-largest crude exporter, so markets are already feeling a little jittery, sending crude oil to its highest since September on Friday. Here are five charts showing how Iraq’s economy has developed since the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq and where its vulnerabilities lie. Read more

Emily Cadman

Those hoping for a rapid pickup in UK productivity shouldn’t hold their breath.

That’s the message from a new Bank of England paper which suggests the UK’s dismal figures are more likely to be the result of “persistent effects” from the financial crisis, rather than temporary, cyclical factors which will fade away as the economy recovers.

Just under half (around 6 to 9 per cent) of the UK’s productivity gap can be explained by the hypothesis that the crisis resulted in underlying damage to the UK’s productive capacity:

 Read more

Emily Cadman

Institutional weaknesses are mainly to blame for Greece’s dire trading performance, with exports around a third smaller than they should be, according to a new paper from staff at the European Commission.

Aside from being the world’s largest shipping nation, Greece sits at the cross road between three continents and on one of the world’s busiest sea routes.

Yet, researchers estimate its exports are approximately 33 per cent lower than would be expected based on the size of the Greek economy, its trading partners and its geographic position. The Commission staff dubs this “the puzzle of the missing Greek exports.” Read more

Claire Jones

It’s crunch time for the European Central Bank. After more than six months of jawboning, pretty much every seasoned ECB watcher thinks the governing council is finally going to ease monetary policy on Thursday.

Disappointing growth, worryingly weak inflation, and the rise of anti-establishment parties in the European Parliamentary elections have only added to the sense that rate-setters must do something to stave off the threat of deflation and help stimulate lending in the real economy. What can we expect from the ECB and how will it work? Read more

Emily Cadman

It’s official: money can buy you happiness. Or more precisely, having money to spend can.

That’s the conclusion from a new piece of analysis by the ONS which looks at how household spending correlates with self-reported levels of well being in the UK. Read more

Robin Harding

Andrew Levin, a Fed staffer who worked extensively on Janet Yellen’s communication reforms when she was vice-chair, sets out a set of principles for central bank communications in a paper at today’s Hoover central banking conference.

He calls for press conferences after every Fed meeting and a quarterly, Bank of England-style monetary policy report. Mr Levin is currently at the IMF but this a direction many Fed officials want to go.

Here are Mr Levin’s principles, with my highlights in bold, and comments in italic: Read more

Chris Giles

Professor Thomas Piketty has given a more detailed response to the Financial Times articles and blogs on his wealth inequality data in Capital in the 21st Century (here, here, here and here). He says it is “simply wrong” to suggest he made errors in his data.

There are a few things on which we agree. First, the source data on wealth inequality is poor. I have written that it is “sketchy” and Prof Piketty says it is “much less systematic than we have for income inequality”. Second, it would have been preferable for Prof Piketty to have used a more sophisticated averaging technique than a simple average of Britain, France and Sweden to derive an estimate for European wealth inequality. Third, the available data suggests a broad trend of reduction in wealth inequality during most of the 20th Century. Read more

Emily Cadman

French academic Thomas Piketty has issued a detailed response to criticism by the Financial Times of his work on inequality, saying it is “simply wrong” to suggest he made errors in his data.

The best-selling author of Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which has ignited an international debate on trends in inequality, said “the corrections proposed by the FT to my series (and with which I disagree) are for the most part relatively minor, and do not affect the long run evolutions and my overall analysis”. Read more

How do you measure what prostitutes and drug dealers do for the economy? Britain’s official statisticians have had a go – and decided their inclusion in the UK’s GDP estimates will add about £10bn to the size of the economy in 2009. But how did they get to that number? Read more