UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from The Great Debate UK:

Why is the UK still in recession when the U.S. isn’t?

Recent U.S.  gross domestic product data show the world's biggest economy emerged from recession in the third quarter, while in the UK data show that in the same period Britain's economy contracted.

British economist and author John Kay theorizes that Britain is mired in its worst recession on record in part because government support has not been evenly distributed across sectors.

"We've poured money into the financial sector -- by and large the financial sector in Britain is doing OK," he said.  "But very little of that is getting through to small and medium-size businesses out there in the rest of the economy."

from MacroScope:

UK goes crisis camping

If the Hollands Wood campsite in the New Forest, near England's south coast is anything to go by, the recession really is altering the holidaymaking habits of the British public.

On the often rain-sodden site three Porches, a couple of Jaguars and numerous BMWs and Mercedes were spotted among the more typical, Skodas and Ford Mondeos usually associated with roughing it under canvas.

Banks score own goal with bonus culture defence

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In the blink of an eye it look as if the City is “booming” again after Barclays and HSBC announced buoyant investment banking earnings on Monday.

Both banks were hit by a surge in bad debts as the recession took its toll on borrowers, but analysts said that resurgent debt and foreign exchange trading and market share grabbed from troubled rivals fuelled the largely positive results.

What is killing the traditional British pub?

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British pubs are closing at a rate of more than 50 a week, according to industry figures. The number of watering holes shutting up shop increased by a third in the first six months of 2009 to around 52 every week.

The British Beer and Pubs Association (BBPA) said the closure rate means a total of 2,377 pubs have closed over the last 12 months with the loss of 24,000 jobs. The BBPA blames above-average increases in alcohol duty, the cost of regulation and the recession for the worrying trend.

from MacroScope:

UK heading for second downturn?

MacroScope is pleased to post the following from guest blogger Julian Chillingworth. Chillingworth is chief investment officer of UK investor Rathbones. He questions here whether Britain will face a second downturn shortly after struggling out of recession.

Are we likely to witness a two-tier recession in the UK?  Perhaps not a recession but certainly a secondary downturn. A vast number of people have enjoyed lower mortgage payments and a level of job security, but will this last?

Will you miss Teletext?

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It will be the end of an era. Associated Newspapers has announced that it will shut the analogue Teletext TV service in January next year.

The shutdown was expected to take place in 2012 and the company has also said that it will even close several of its Freeview digital services. The service has been badly hit by a fall in audiences and revenue brought on by the economic downturn.

from MacroScope:

Crisis, what crisis, time again in Britain

Britain's recession, like the downturns in most other places, is being hailed as either having reachえd bottom or tailed off in its decline. The latest to trumpet the beginning of the end is the British Chambers of Commerce, which said business orders and sales had continued to fall in the second quarter but at a slower pace than previously.

So does this mean that the Bank of England will soon start raising interest rates from the negligible 0.5 percent reached last year as policymakers sought to pump liquidity into a failing economy? Not according to researchers Capital Economics, which argues in a new report that market assumptions of higher rates at an early stage are misplaced. They offer three reasons:

M&S needs to manage succession as well as recession

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Marks & Spencer is finally getting to grips with the recession, first-quarter results from the bellwether retailer show. But it needs to sort out a row over management if its shares are to enjoy the full benefit.

Many investors are still up in arms over M&S’s decision last year to elevate the charismatic Stuart Rose to executive chairman — combining the roles of chairman and chief executive against corporate governance guidelines.

What if it’s not the economy, stupid?

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Gordon Brown is counting on a swift economic turnaround. It’s probably his Labour Party’s only hope of avoiding a humiliating electoral defeat to the Conservatives next year.

The latest news on the economy has certainly got people in Downing Street smiling. The housing market is stabilising and some commentators are even talking about Britain becoming the first major country to pull out of the recession.

Is hitch-hiking coming back?

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They say nostalgia isn’t what it used to be but there’s certainly a lot of it around at the moment.

All sorts of things are coming back as the recession forces us to cut back spending and, in some cases, change our habits quite radically.

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