The UK economy has returned to its pre-pandemic size

Nearly two years after the UK experienced its biggest economic collapse in 300 years, the economy has returned to pre-pandemic levels. GDP is estimated by the ONS to have grown by 0.9 per cent in November, almost twice what had been expected – making it 0.7 per cent larger than it was in February 2020. The US and Sweden managed to pass pre-pandemic levels last spring. China took just a few months. But Britain, whose economy fell further than almost any developed country in 2020, is catching up. Britain, whose economy fell further than almost any developed country in 2020, is catching up The below chart shows how UK growth

Covid pingdemic takes its toll on Britain’s economic bounce-back

The arrival of ‘freedom day’ on 19 July enabled people to return to concerts, festivals, and ditch social distancing, but these rediscovered freedoms did not revive the economy. The ONS said this morning that growth was just 0.1 per cent in July, far lower than the consensus forecast. It was particularly disappointing given the growth seen in the locked-down months of June (one per cent) and May (0.6 per cent). The Pingdemic – and concerns about the Delta variant – cancelled out any animal spirits around reopening. August’s GDP boost is going to need to be much stronger for the more bullish forecasts to pan out Nightclubs reopened and the entertainment

Can the EU save Italy?

There’s been a lot of hype around the green light given by the European Commission yesterday to Italy’s recovery plan. But let’s break it down: the final headline numbers are €68.9 billion in EU grants by the year 2026 and €123 billion in loans. If you take the grant component, and divide it over the six-year duration, you arrive at an average of 0.6-0.7 per cent of Italy’s 2019 GDP each year. It is front-loaded, and it’s by no means a modest sum. What’s harder to accept however, is folding in the loan component to arrive at some giant fake headline number. The whole point of this exercise is not

Will Britain’s economic recovery break records?

It’s been a good week for seeing the vaccine factor at work. We’ve had multiple real-world updates on the Pfizer vaccine’s effectiveness against new variants of Covid-19 (this bodes well for the UK, which was the first country in the world to use the vaccine to protect its most vulnerable residents). And today we’ve had a revised economic forecast from the Bank of England, suggesting the UK’s impressive vaccine rollout could translate into the strongest growth since records began in 1949. The Bank of England now predicts that the economy will expand by more than 7 per cent in 2021, up from its forecast of 5 per cent in February. Its

Will Covid cost less than expected?

It’s no surprise that the bill for Covid-19 keeps racking up. The Office for Budget Responsibility’s latest forecast predicts borrowing will reach £355 billion for the financial year: decisions to extend furlough, boosting public sector spending and supporting businesses that have been closed for months at a time all come with a price tag attached. But that doesn’t stop the sums from creating shock and awe each time they’re announced. Today’s update from the Office for National Statistics shows that government borrowing hit £19 billion last month — more than £17 billion from the previous year and the highest borrowing recorded for February since records began in 1993.  Operating on the assumption that