“Unlimited wants, scarce resources”. This is the economic problem. But once basic needs are met, how much should scarcity – having “enough” – be understood as a psychological problem? Is it possible to cultivate an “abundance mindset”? And what does all of this mean for how economics is taught?
Alastair Cunningham, David Bradnum and Alastair Firrell.
Uncertainty is a hot topic for economists at the moment. Have business leaders become more uncertain as a result of the EU referendum? If so, has that uncertainty had any effect on their plans? The Bank’s analysts look at lots of measures of economic uncertainty, from complex financial market metrics to how often newspaper articles mention it. But few of those measures are sourced directly from the trading businesses up and down the country whose investment and employment plans affect the UK economy. This blog reports on recent efforts to draw out what the Bank’s wide network of business contacts are telling us about uncertainty – comparing what we’re hearing now to trends seen in recent years.
Equity prices reflect the market value of public companies, making them an important indicator of the economy. In practice, stocks by firms listed on the local stock exchange serve as the ‘domestic’ equity benchmark but this might be misleading as an indicator of the national economy: stock markets track the performance of individual firms, including their international business. This makes it particularly challenging to extract a signal for the UK economy from UK equity prices, as the universe of UK-listed firms tends to be very global – for instance, around 2/3 of sales represented on the FTSE All-Share are generated abroad. So for a better read of the UK economy, I’ll look at a subset of more UK-focused stocks and other more domestically-focused UK equity indices.
Much has been written about the productivity puzzle. But there are actually two puzzles apparent in the data – one in the level that hit at the crisis and the other in the growth rate, which is a more recent phenomenon – and they could be driven by completely different sources. Distinguishing between the two puzzles is important precisely because of these potential differences – if anyone analyses the puzzle as a whole looking for the force driving it, the actual underlying variety will confound our estimates of the relative importance of these drivers.
In this post I discuss:
- what people mean by the productivity puzzle, usually a percent deviation from the pre-crisis trend;
- how I think of it as actually two puzzles: one in the level and the other in the growth rate; and
- why this distinction can be important, using the example of a simple growth accounting decomposition of productivity growth into capital deepening and technological advancement.
Christopher Hackworth, Nicola Shadbolt and David Seaward.
While official housing market statistics are relatively timely and high frequency, they usually come with a lag of at least one month. So indicators that lead official estimates are helpful for identifying turning points, or any ‘shocks’ to the economy.
Jeremy Chiu and Sinem Hacioglu Hoke.
When shocks cause trouble
Small shocks can lead to big crises. At the heart of this issue is that economic dynamics might play out very differently against different backdrops: the same shock would have a very different effect if it hit the economy at the heights of the Great Recession than if it hit during more benign times. It might knock the economy into a more severe and persistent recession or financial stress if it hits already turbulent periods. It seems reasonable, therefore, that we would want to take into account the economic backdrop when we estimate our models.
Stephen Burgess, Oliver Burrows, Antoine Godin, Stephen Kinsella and Stephen Millard.
How can large open economies deal with persistent imbalances now and into the future? This question became particularly pertinent in the Great Moderation where, despite stability in output and inflation, sectoral financial balances, both within and across countries, widened. In a recent Staff Working Paper, we developed a model of the UK economy to assess how economic and financial imbalances are likely to evolve over longer periods. Here, we show how we can use this model to examine the evolution of financial balances under different scenarios. We think models like this can form a useful addition to the suite of models called upon by policy-makers to help in their decision making.
Since the financial crisis the UK’s fiscal and current account balances have persistently been in deficit. These ‘twin’ deficits are significant in historical terms, with a record peacetime fiscal deficit in 2009 and a record current account deficit in 2015. But how closely related are these ‘twins’ and do they pose a risk to financial stability? Using a new ‘from-whom-to-whom’ dataset I find that the two deficits are not directly related to each other and are being financed through relatively stable channels.
Enthusiasts use the tiny Raspberry Pi computers for many things. Fun ones include garage door opening, retro gaming, a voice-activated tea maker, live images from near-space and even a GPS kitten tracker. These computers are primarily educational but do anything a normal computer does, so users also send email, play Minecraft, program and (it turns out) do macroeconomic modelling.
Marius Jurgilas, Ben Norman and Tomohiro Ota.
The final, practical determinant of whether a bank is a going concern is: does it have the liquidity to make its payments as they become due? Thus, the ultimate crucible in which financial crises play out is the payment system. At the height of recent crises, some banks delayed making payments for fear of paying to a bank that would fail (Norman (2015)). This post sets out a design feature in a payment system that creates incentives, especially during financial crises, for banks to keep making payments. This feature could address situations where banks in the system would otherwise be tempted to postpone their payments to a bank that is (rumoured to be) in trouble.