Sunday, 19 February 2017

Oops Perhaps Retail Isn't Going To Save Us After All

We had early sales before Christmas, we had January sales and late sales allied to low interest rates and money being printed willy nilly by the Bank Of England and yet consumer spending fell in December and January. The fall in January was rather smaller than the fall in December and retail sales figures are one of the more volatile indicators when it comes to the economy so the next move could be up.

Personally I doubt it will be though; inflation is making a return as wage and pensions legislation comes into effect and as the effect of the weaker pound, which fell again today on the news of the retail sales figures, starts to bite. Brexit uncertainty must be playing on some peoples' minds, oil prices are on the up, as are business rates, raw material costs and so on.

It's not just consumers who are quiet, major stockbrokers report that investors are putting off decisions too.

What's the prospect then for the Bank Of England's predicted 2% growth forecast? Looks shaky to me, I have to say. The BOE has also expressed concerns about levels of personal and household debt, dare they encourage more debt, or do they try and rein in spending on credit? To do so would probably be to rein in spending full stop and if they need to raise interest rates in a few months, as I believe they may well have to, then there will be a howl of pain from the already indebted majority.

Mark Carney could be between a rock and a hard place although he's already talked about scooting back to Canada in the not too distant future. Some of us might like to scoot off to Europe but that door may close.

Liar in Chief Boris Johnson and Universal Credit genius IDS crow about how good things are, well of course the world didn't end that day after the referendum and of course the weaker pound meant a short term bounce for exports. Unfortunately we are sleep walking over a cliff and since Mrs May can hardly play the role of siren she's pushing hard from behind. Why might be a good question.

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