Government borrowing finishes year on target

Government borrowing in March, the final month of the financial year, came in at £18.2bn, according to the measure which ignores the temporary effects of financial interventions which include bank bail-outs. Many analysts thought the figure would have been lower, but it was offset by a revised figure for February borrowing which was slashed by £3bn. The Office for Budget … Continue reading

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UK GDP falls in the last quarter of 2011

UK GDP shrank by 0.2% in the final three months of last year, according to figures just published by the Office for National Statistics. This is the first fall since the last quarter of 2010. Most economists had expected a drop of 0.1%, although this is only a preliminary estimate and may well be corrected at a later date. The … Continue reading

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Most major economies still in slowdown mode

The OECD has just published its latest growth forecasts, and the outlook is not great. Composite leading indicators (CLIs), designed to anticipate turning points in economic activity relative to trend, continue pointing to a slowdown in activity in most OECD countries and major non-member economies. The assessment is little changed compared to last month for most countries. The CLI for … Continue reading

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And so the contagion spreads

Italy has become the latest country to have its sovereign debt rating cut. Standard and Poor’s (S&P), the debt rating agency, has reduced Italy’s rating down one level from A+ to A. The debt rating is meant to give a signal as to how reliable the country will be in repaying its debt. Italy has a debt to GDP ratio … Continue reading

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Will Greece bring the eurozone down?

There is a crisis in Europe at the moment as a result of the possibility of Greece defaulting on its debts. The euro has fallen in value and stock markets have dropped around the world during the last few days. Even the Chinese have expressed concern, because Europe is such an important market for them. Greece is a basket case, … Continue reading

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Oh no, it’s started already.

Following my blog yesterday on the dangers of austerity packages, Ireland’s actions are coming home to roost. Ireland had been praised in some quarters for its savage austerity measures which have led to rising unemployment. But it has just been announced that the Irish Republic saw shrinkage of its economy by 1.2% in the second quarter. The fact that government’s … Continue reading

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Do falling markets and tighter liquidity signal a new Great Depression?

This seems a surprising prospect at the moment, but according to Telegraph.co.uk this morning, Andrew Roberts, head of European rates strategy at RBS, said: “Great Depression II” could now be approaching; adding: “It now has the potential to speed toward its conclusion; a European $1 trillion package which does little and political panic tells you we are about to reach … Continue reading

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We shall defend the euro whatever it takes

These are the words of Ollie Rehn, the EU Economic Affairs Commissioner over the weekend after EU finance ministers were involved in eleven hours of talks. The result of the emergency meeting which was brought together to deal with the fiasco in Greece, will have far-reaching implications throughout the eurozone. The agreement means that the 16 countries in the euro … Continue reading

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Avoiding a forest fire in the EU

“It is absolutely essential to contain the bushfire in Greece so that it will not become a forest fire and a threat to financial stability for the European Union and its economy as a whole.” So said Ollie Rehn, the EU economic and monetary affairs commissioner at a news conference in Brussels. From forest fire to deadly disease: Dominique Strauss-Kahn, … Continue reading

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Beware of Greeks seeking gifts

The euro zone is in crisis. It seems that not only does Greece have the largest budget deficit in the EU in proportion to the size of its economy, but previous Greek governments have been ‘economical with the truth’ when presenting official statistics. The Greek budget deficit is around 13% of GDP, and the country has agreed to reduce this … Continue reading

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