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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Development aid reaches its highest level ever

Figures published by the OECD yesterday show that total net official development assistance (ODA) from members of the OECD’s Development Assistance Committee (DAC) rose by 10.2% in real terms in 2008 to reach $119.8bn. This is the highest dollar figure ever recorded. In total, it represents 0.30% of member countries combined gross national income (GNI).   This is great news … Continue reading

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Slump in house building could become critical

The number of applications from builders to start new homes fell by almost two-thirds year-on-year during the three months from November 2008 to January 2009, according to the National House Building Council (NHBC). The NHBC also revised down its predictions for new home starts during the current financial year 2008-09 by 5,000 to 80,000. This would give a figure which … Continue reading

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Sharp fall in retail sales last month

Retail sales volume fell by 1.9% between January and February . On a year-on-year basis sales grew by 0.4% but this was the slowest pace of growth for 14 years. There was a mixed picture depending on the type of shop. For example, over the past 12 months non-specialist stores showed a decrease of 5.2% but shops that were predominantly … Continue reading

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Bad Czech and the road to hell

Just a week to go before the G20 meeting in London and the EU has stirred up trouble with the US. Yesterday, Mirek Topolanek, prime minister of the Czech Republic and currently holding the EU presidency set the 27-nation EU bloc at loggerheads with the US, by describing the US fiscal stimulus as “the road to hell.”   Topolanek said: … Continue reading

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Put your cheque book away Prime Minister

Yesterday, Mervyn King, Governor of the Bank of England, was answering questions from MPs at a Treasury committee. Just another routine meeting you might think. However, the governor grabbed the headlines by breaking with a convention of the Bank of not discussing the public finances in the open.   He basically warned Gordon Brown against mounting another significant fiscal stimulus … Continue reading

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Inflation: CPI up, RPI down to zero

Just published by the ONS at 9.30am today, the latest inflation figures show that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) annual inflation  – which is the government’s target measure – rose by 3.2% in February. This was up from 3.0% in January.   This means that the CPI is moving away from the Bank of England’s 2.0% target, after the Bank … Continue reading

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Outlook for public finances is “alarming”

In a news release issued this morning by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) the organisation submitted its budget proposals to the Chancellor. The CBI warned that “the alarming state of the public finances rules out the option of a further significant fiscal stimulus.”   John Cridland, CBI Deputy-Director General said: “The public finances have been battered by the cost … Continue reading

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Lessons from the Great Depression

        What can we learn from the Great Depression of the 1930s? Christina D. Romer, who is chair of the US Council of Economic Advisers, presented a paper to the Brookings Institution in Washington last week.     She suggests six major lessons.   A small fiscal expansion has only small effects. Monetary expansion can help to … Continue reading

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Women doing better in the current labour market

Interestingly enough women appear to be doing better than men in the current recessionary conditions in the labour market, according to new data produced by the ONS.   At the beginning of 1971 the overall employment rate for women was 56% as opposed to 70% in the last three months of 2008. By contrast, over the same period, the male … Continue reading

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Global economy to shrink for first time since World War Two

In a paper prepared for last weekend’s G20 meeting of Finance Ministers, the World Bank said that the global economy is likely to shrink this year for the first time since the second world war. With growth at least 5 percentage points below potential, the World Bank forecasts that global industrial production could be as much as 15% lower by … Continue reading

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