Tuesday 18 September saw Roger Bootle, MD of Capital Economics, deliver an economic briefing at The Grand Connaught Rooms in Holborn.
Despite Bootle's reputation for promoting sober views of the economy, the main message was somewhat more optimistic, and although considerable uncertainty remains, falling inflation and improvement in real household income should buoy confidence in 2013.
A summary of the key points raised:
- Chinese Economy: despite a slowing economy, Roger was less worried as high interest rates suggest there is great scope for stimulating growth.
- US Fiscal Cliff: if the main political parties cannot agree a new budget early next year, automatic fiscal cuts amounting to $500bn could follow throwing the US economy into a double dip recession. Roger said he was confident that the US would deal with this problem.
- Eurozone: Roger's remarks were premised on perspective that breakup of the Eurozone was part of the solution, not the problem. He suggested that recent confidence arising from the ECB intention of buying peripheral government bonds was misplaced and likely to prove transitory. Greece was likely to go and when they went and experienced an economic recovery it would likely encourage other governments to consider leaving the Eurozone.
- UK economy: Roger felt that the government would remain committed to austerity, but would probably spend more on infrastructure projects and investment. He was critical of the lack of certainty with respect to HS2 and Airport Capacity. He suggested that falling inflation would improve confidence as households would begin to see real increases in income in 2013.
- UK property: GDP is closely correlated to real rental growth, and until we have more traction in the general economy real rents were likely to remain very weak. This would have a negative effect on the investment market and he foresaw further capital falls, even in Central London markets.