Chris has an excellent post about optimists and pessimists on the UK economy and how you tell the difference.
As Chris puts it:
The Treasury, the IMF, the Office for Budget Responsibility and most in the Bank of England are the pessimists. They believe one of the two following possibilities: either that lots of capacity was lost permanently in the recession, or that the economy was fundamentally unsustainable before the downturn, as shown in this graph. I understand the IMF’s latest estimate is that the output gap is only 3 per cent.
Sir Alan Budd, interim chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility, was on the money this morning in highlighting what a difficult job his successor faces. He said:
“No one in their right mind would take on a job in which your success is judged by your success in fiscal forecasts”.
The OBR is not alone in this plight. Members of the Monetary Policy Committee take interest rate decisions which are predicated on the Bank of England’s forecasts. But in having a decision as well as a forecast, the MPC is always able to claim that it took the right decision based on the information available at the time, which takes the focus away from its often poor forecasts.
So much for the communication surrounding errors. The origination of forecast errors is more important. And the OBR’s greater, though far from perfect, transparency shows that its Budget forecast hinges on very thin and quite weird stuff. Read more
If US retail sales figures were driven by auto sales, what will happen when the various cash-for-clunkers programs stop? The dollar may be the world’s new carry currency and global stimulus measures may be worsening future cycles Read more
Ralph Atkins looks at the ECB’s September bulletin and finds that the bank does not accept greater slack means lower inflationary pressures. The ECB also issues an explanation on the dramatic widening in eurozone government bond spreads earlier this year Read more
The Bank of England’s growth forecasts were good, but have been terrible of late. What do the most recent ones tell us about interest rates and the Bank’s view of the recession, asks Chris Giles of the Financial Times Read more