UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from MacroScope:

UK GDP: Should have gone to Specsavers?

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twice as fast as expected in the second quarter of this year propelled by a sharp pick-up in services and the biggest rise in construction in almost 50 years.

Markets are getting used to volatile swings in economic data since the financial crisis set in three years ago. But UK GDP figures for Q2 were so eye-poppingly strong they caused confusion on trading floors.   

 

"Should have gone to Specsavers??" wrote Philip Shaw, chief economist at Investec, referring to British television commercials lampooning myopic citizens who desperately need a new pair of corrective lenses.

 

"Perhaps critics will suggest that the ONS has got it wrong again, but traders' initial suggestions, calling into question the accuracy of the newswire reports -- and this author's eyesight -- proved to be misplaced," wrote Shaw.

 

The 1.1 percent quarterly growth the Office for National Statistics reported for Q2 was nearly double the 0.6 percent Reuters consensus forecast and blew out the highest forecast polled, 0.8 percent, by a significant margin. The fact it came a half hour after news the German Ifo index saw its biggest one month surge since reunification in 1990 made it all the more shocking.

from MacroScope:

Health and the older worker

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An interesting post on ING's new eZonomics blog points the reader to a new study on older workers and health.  The findings -- as reported in The Lancet -- don't at first glance look terribly surprising:

A poor work environment and health complaints before retirement were associated with a steeper yearly increase in the prevalence of suboptimum health while still in work, and a greater retirement-related improvement; however, people with a combination of high occupational grade, low demands, and high satisfaction at work showed no such retirement-related improvement.

from Global Investing:

Pity Poor Pound

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Britain's pound has long been the whipping boy of notoriously fickle currency markets, but there are worrying signs that it's not just hedge funds and speculators who have lost faith in sterling. Reuters FX columnist Neal Kimberley neatly illustrated yesterday just how poor sentiment toward sterling in the dealing rooms has become and the graphic below (on the sharp buildup of speculative 'short' positsions seen in U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission data) shows how deeply that negative view has become entrenched.              

 While the pound's inexorable grind down to parity with the euro captures the popular headlines, the Bank of England's index of sterling against a trade-weighted basket of world currencies shows that weakness is pervasive. The index has lost more than a quarter of its value in little over two years -- by far the worst of the G4 (dollar, euro, sterling and yen) currencies over the financial crisis. The dollar's equivalent index has shed only about a third of the pound's losses since mid-2007, while the euro's has jumped about 10% and the yen's approximately 20% over that period.

from MacroScope:

Live Blogging G20

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Finance ministers from the G20 are meeting in London on Friday and Saturday to discuss the next steps in battling the world's worst economic and financial crisis since the Great Depression.

Reuters correspondents from around the world will be at the event, taking you behind the scenes and and providing unprecedented coverage through this live blog.

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