Can we trust economic models?

Rishi Sunak shared a delightful moment of honesty on the Today programme on Thursday. Mishal Husain asked him how households will cope if, as the Office for Budget Responsibility has forecast, energy bills rise by a further £830 a year – on top of the rises already due to take effect in April. No, no, no, said the Chancellor, you can’t believe the OBR forecast on energy prices: ‘They just take what the market expectation is at a given time, and since they closed their forecast actually the forecast for energy bills in the autumn has come down by £400.’ It was a fair point. Except, if the Chancellor doesn’t think

Boris’s tier assessment says nothing new

In an attempt to win tomorrow’s vote on the new tier system — without relying on Labour’s support — Boris Johnson promised to publish analysis of the health, social and economic impact that the new tier system would have on the nation. But potential rebels are unlikely to be satisfied with the resulting document, published earlier this afternoon.  The intention was to show sceptical MPs that the government is seriously weighing up the trade-offs between the effects of Covid and the effects of stopping its spread. But it did not include a rigorous economic analysis of the tier system: in fact, it provided no cost-benefit analysis of any specific restriction. Instead of

Sunak’s Spending Review and the devastating impact of Covid

It’s been no secret that Covid-19 has sent the UK’s finances into disarray — but today we received a further insight into just how bad the books are looking. Alongside Rishi Sunak’s Spending Review came updated forecasts and scenarios published by the Office for Budget Responsibility, which confirm the UK economy is set to shrink by 11.3 per cent this year — the largest economic fall in 300 years. The road to recovery is forecast to be a long one: economic output is not expected to return to pre-Covid levels for another two years: Q4 in 2022. There is still no sign of a sharp, V-shaped recovery, but rather another

Should we abandon hopes of a V-shaped recovery?

It is an uptick so small that it could almost be comic, but the UK economy started to grow in May: by 1.8 per cent following a 20 per cent slump in April. Office for National Statistics figures out today show that, even in lockdown, surging online retail sales – coupled with signs of a recovery in construction – show a small increase in GDP. The big question is what shape we can now see: a L, a Nike swoosh or a sharp V? Reopening the economy can only go so far: tackling people’s fear of Covid-19 is key for a V-shaped recovery Today’s increase suggests growth is  – every so

Austerity may be back – whether Boris Johnson likes it or not

It just keeps on getting worse. Like the death toll from Covid-19 itself, forecasts for the economy in the wake of the crisis keep on creeping upwards. Today, the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts that UK GDP could contract by 35 per cent by June if the lockdown continues until then, before ‘bouncing back quickly’. Unemployment could rise, it says, by two million, with the unemployment rate climbing to 10 per cent. That is quite a shock given that on the eve of this crisis we were celebrating the highest employment ever and the lowest unemployment in 45 years. The 35 per cent contraction is making all the headlines

Kate Andrews

OBR analysis reveals staggering impact of Covid-19 on UK economy

Just days after the Office for Budget Responsibility announced its economic forecasts in March, the reality of Covid-19’s impact on the UK economy sunk in, and its projection was rendered completely obsolete. A month later, with a clearer picture of the toll the virus and lockdown have taken, the OBR today released its new coronavirus analysis, showing a staggering 35 per fall in real GDP in the second quarter, and an unemployment spike of up to 10 per cent – that is, 2 million additional people out of work. A long way off its Budget 2020 forecast for the year:  As the graph above shows, the OBR’s scenario predicts a ‘V-shaped’ recovery –