DIY Leads Retail Rally ... As Fashion Clothing Slips ...
Retail sales were up by almost 5% in September. Exclude automotive fuel and volumes increased by 6.4% year on year. DIY leads the retail rally. DIY sales were up by 27%, sales of flowers, plants and seeds, increased by 30%.
Working from home is boosting productivity, in households at least. "Don't just sit there do something", the cry. Household good sales were up by 10%, carpet sales were up by 50%. Take a break? Sneak into the bedroom and read a book. Book sales were up by 14%.
Losers in the retail rally were fashion clothing, down 14%. Computers and tele-comm sales were down by 40%. Thinking of music and movies, then stream again, traditional outlet sales were down by 9%.
Spend, Spend, Spend as Government Borrowing Hits £200 billion ...
Government borrowing in the first six months of the year, increased to £208 billion. That's an increase of £175 billion on prior year. Total debt increased to £2.1 trillion at the end of September, that's 104% of GDP.
In the first six months of the year, the Debt Management Office issued £306 billion of gilts. Net of redemption, new gilt issuance totaled £240 billion. So how was that funded?
The Bank of England purchased some £268 billion of gilts over the period. The Old Lady was forced to step in as the "buyer of last resort". The pretense of QE abandoned, the minutes of the MPC meeting now openly talk of the "purchase of government bonds". According to Andrew Bailey, Governor of the Bank of England, "the government would have struggled to fund itself" without central bank intervention.
Brexit Break ... Aussie Rules Not O.K.
Ten weeks to go to the end of the transition period, the Prime Minister has realized a Canada style deal with the EU, is not on offer. "A relationship based on friendship and free trade will not be available from our partners of forty five years." said the PM.
"The EU has refused to negotiate seriously for much of the last few months" said Johnson, (and simply agree with the UK government he could have added). Michel Barnier has been told not to take the train to London next week. Mind the gap! A level fishing ground, remains the catch.
Boris Johnson has reached the conclusion, it is time to prepare for a deal more like Australia. No car exports, no involvement in Airbus and no syndication for big pharma, presumably.
IMF World Economic Outlook ... A warning for the Chancellor ...
The IMF released the latest World Economic Outlook this week. The global economy is expected to contract by -4.4% this year with a recovery of over 5% anticipated in 2021. This is slightly better than the outlook in June, which predicted a setback of -4.9% this year and a recovery of +5.4% in 2021.
China is now expected to grow by almost 2% in the current year. Growth of just 1% was expected in June. The setback in the USA has been mitigated with the loss of output of -8% forecast in June, now expected to be just over -4% in October. US Government borrowing of $3 trillion dollars in the financial year just ended will have assisted the process.
Fears For Tiers as Local Lock-downs Loom ...
Just when you thought it was safe to leave the bubble and nix the rule of six, the traffic light system is coming. Fears for tiers and local lock-down abound. Pubs and restaurants may have to close in Northern Cities. More job losses seem inevitable in the hospitality sector.
The Chancellor is already handing out lifebelts, on a cruise ship heading for the ice. The Chancellor has announced a new Job Support scheme starting in November. The Treasury will pay one third of the wages of those in businesses forced to close; Closures as a result of new measures, yet to be announced. The support scheme will last six months and cost around £2.4 billion.
This is not an extension of the furlough scheme. It should have been.
The President On Steroids ...
Who could have thought it was a good idea to put the President on Steroids? Trump received an exotic cocktail of oxygen, the red blood of ten young men and a dose of experimental drugs from America's finest pharmaceuticals this week.
At the military hospital, Trump received a dose of Remdesivir, the experimental drug, not yet known to be safe or effective as a treatment for Covid.
Conley, the President's physician disclosed that Trump was also given the steroid dexamethasone after his blood oxygen level dropped twice in recent days. Side effects of dex include, mood swings, behavioral disorders and cognitive disability apparently.
Hopes Rise for a deal with the EU ... Level Fishing Ground Remains The Catch ...
Britain and the EU are to begin two more weeks of intense negotiations. Both sides have indicated a deal is in sight. Boris Johnson, is to hold, one on one talks, with the lady in the blue mask. Ursula von der Leyen, head of the European Commission is ready to step up the action, to achieve a solution.
A level fishing ground appears to be the catch. Boris Johnson said last night, he was pretty confident of striking a deal. "The chances of a deal, are very good, if everyone exercises some common sense" and agrees with me.
Wuhan is Booming ... The President Tests Positive for Covid
Wuhan, the city at the centre of the Chinese outbreak, is booming again, according to a report in the Times today. Six months following the lifting of the lock-down, Wuhan is throbbing. Shopping centres are bustling. Trains are packed and airlines are adding flights.
The city has been officially free of coronavirus since the beginning of June. The local daily newspaper declared "Wuhan is full of vitality. People's faces are brimming with smiles of happiness". That's nice to know. Yes, there is life after lock-down.
No smiles of happiness in the White House. The President and the first lady have tested positive for Covid.
Welcome to the Saturday Economist Live. This week we will be talking about The Chancellor's Winter Plans for the Economy and the latest on the US election as Trump's team plans for his departure.
The Chancellor's Winter plan revealed further extension of the VAT cut for the hospitality sector. Generous cash flow provisions were added for VAT and Loan repayments. The furlough scheme would come to an end as planned. The complex Job Support Scheme would be introduced. At best the jobs crisis may be postponed to the end of January.
The President was asked at a press conference this week if he would commit to a peaceful transfer of power after the election. Trump declined to answer, in the affirmative. No surprise really. This would be an admission of defeat. Instead the President managed a non committal response and a complaint about the election process. "Well, we're going to have to see what happens," he said. "You know that I've been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster." Nevertheless, the transition team are making plans ...
Retail Sales rise ... DIY leads the charge ...
Retail sales increased by almost 3% in August. Excluding fuel, total sales volumes increased by over 4%. DIY led the charge. B&Q and others benefited, with DIY sales up by 20%. Garden centres were blooming. Green fingers tapped the tills with a 17% increase in horticultural goods year on year ... we review the latest retail sales figures for August ...
Unemployment increases ... but not by much in July
Unemployment increased in the three months to July by 60,000, to a level of 1.4 million. The u rate moved higher to 4.1% compared to 3.9%. Despite the increase, the employment rate was actually higher. 33.0 million were in work, compared to 32.8 million over the same period last year. The picture by the end of August may look significantly worse ... We explain why ...
Welcome to The Saturday Economist Live 29th August 2020 ...
Part 1 : Pigs Will Fly and Learn To Drive A Tesla ...
Just when you thought it couldn't get much weirder, Elon Musk has introduced a group of pigs with mind reading implants. Developed by Neuralink, headquartered in Fremont, California, the button sized brain implant can be installed by a robot. The brain activity of pigs can then be transmitted to a computer "allowing onlookers to watch the animals' neurons fire, as vets stroked their snouts" according to Bloomberg today.
Part 2 Get Back To Work ... Get Back To The Office
Boris Johnson is under fire this week. "Get Britain back to work", senior Tories have told the Prime Minister. A "clear and consistent message" is needed on this and many things for sure. Grant Shapps said the government would launch a publicity campaign to reassure people, it was now safe to return to the office. The TV and Newspaper campaign will be aimed at reducing the number of people working from home. "People working from home have a higher risk of losing their job", the Transport Secretary added for good measure.
Don't Miss That
This is a special feature from The Saturday Economist Team ...
Don’t worry about the level of national debt, like old soldiers, much of the debt will just fade away … the Bank of England holdings may never be repaid ... according to our latest update.
The gilt assets held by The Bank of England are a liability owned by the Treasury. Both the Bank of England and the Treasury are subsidiaries of government. No need for formal repayment. The debt will simply fade away at some suitable stage in the future. Rollover dates will lapse. The two sides of the balance sheet will be reconciled.
No need to worry about paying back the debt, over 30% of the national debt, almost £ 1 trillion pounds, will just fade away ...
The Saturday Economist Live 5th September 2020. Great updates on the UK and World Economy from The Saturday Economist Team.
Part One : Traffic Levels are speeding up as the recovery gathers pace plus in Part Two we look at the latest developments in the Brexit negotiations, Boris Johnson "Fishing for a better deal". Don't Miss That!
Latest GDP data suggests the recovery is on track, we update our forecasts for the rest of the year ... Retail Sales Are rising but restructuring is taking its toll ... Check out the latest episode ...