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The UK’s productivity conundrum continues - 6th October 2017

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show a further fall in labour productivity in the second quarter of 2017. Productivity fell by 0.1% following a fall of 0.5% in the first quarter of the year. The data also show a disparity between the service sector - where productivity rose by 0.2% in the second quarter - and the manufacturing sector where it fell by 1.3%.

The data highlight again the differences between the UK and other major economies. Productivity growth has for many years lagged behind that seen in the US, Germany and France.

Is the London house price bubble bursting? - 29th September 2017

The latest data show house prices falling in London for the first time since 2009 when the country was in the immediate aftermath of the global banking crisis. Nationwide Building Society’s September survey found average London prices were 0.6% lower than a year ago. Elsewhere house price inflation is moderating although prices are still higher than a year ago. The national average rate of house price inflation is now 2% - although some regions are experiencing inflation rates that are quite marked.

Can consumers steal a march on the financial markets when it comes to interest rates? - 21st September 2017

Following the rise in price inflation in recent months and messages emanating from the Bank of England and UK economists it seems that Bank Rate - also known as the ‘official interest rate’ - will soon be raised by the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). Such a move would be the first increase in Bank Rate since July 2007. In the light of this borrowers are being encouraged to lock into fixed rate deals now ahead of the upward move in Bank Rate.

Pension awareness has to start with the government - 13th September 2017

Pension Awareness Day, 15 September, is becoming an important annual fixture. It aims to encourage us to save for retirement and help employers communicate pensions simply to their workers. According to Scottish Widows, only 56% of people are saving enough for their retirement and getting people to engage with pensions is tough despite ever more employees being automatically enrolled into a pension scheme at work.

The average age of retirement: now rising again after the post-war fall - 7th September 2017

Data published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) show that the average age of retirement for men is now 65 compared with 67 in 1950. By contrast the average retirement age for women is the same - 63 years – as it was back in 1950. Now, though, the prospect is that the average retirement age for both sexes will rise in the coming years.

The upward trend in retirement age is being driven by a various economic and social factors.

Savers set to continue to suffer as interest rates seem set to remain unchanged - 6th September 2017

Savers have suffered with low interest rates on their accounts for the best part of a decade. Bank Rate fell to a then historic low of 0.5% in March 2009 and stayed there until August last year when a further cut to 0.25% resulted from the Bank of England’s move to stabilise the economy following the referendum vote in June 2016 to leave the EU.

The pace of growth in consumer credit eases – but for some, more and more credit is available without request - 30th August 2017

The latest data from the Bank of England shows that the annual growth in consumer credit fell to 9.8% in the year to July – the lowest annual rate since April 2016. Additional mortgage advances in July were £3.6 billion – down from £4.1 billion in June. Analysts are suggesting that this fall in the rate of growth of credit reflects deteriorating consumer confidence, with real incomes under pressure from rising prices. The further weakening of the value of the pound is a major contributor to these inflationary pressures as it has resulted in a rise in the price of imported goods.

Enjoy a sunny bank holiday – regardless of the cost to the economy? - 27th August 2017

This late August bank holiday in England, Wales and Norther Ireland is seeing the country bask in temperatures up to the high-20s Celsius (or 80s in ‘old money’ Fahrenheit). For once the standard story about a wet bank holiday weekend can be shelved as people enjoy alfresco wining and dining or a day on the beach. Whilst bank holidays augment our workplace holiday entitlements nicely we should, perhaps, reflect on what they cost the UK economy – particularly during this difficult period for the economy as Brexit approaches.

How do you assess the performance of your fund manager? - 21st August 2017

The traditional way in which fund manager performance has tended to be judged is against the performance of other fund managers with similar investment objectives. This means that pension fund managers are judged against other pension fund managers, and unit trust managers investing in UK shares are judged against other fund managers investing in UK shares

Growing student loan debts: what will be their long-term impact on universities? - 17th August 2017

This week and last students in the UK received their A-level (or equivalent) results and with these the outcome of their destination plans for higher education. As the latest cohorts of students enter university education they will start the process of accumulating debts as they draw on loans from their Student Loans Company. Non-Scottish students can expect to accumulate debts of between £30K and £60K during their period of study - with fees charged for tuition alone amounting to up to £9,250 for the 2017/18 academic year.

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