Economic analysis

Fresh insights and perspectives on the UK and Northern Ireland economies

My name is Conor Lambe and I am the Chief Economist at Danske Bank.

I am responsible for the Bank’s economic analysis and forecasts, write regular opinion articles for the Northern Irish media and frequently speak at local business events.

Economic analysis is a useful tool for many businesses. It can help you to understand what is driving the performance of the economy and whether current trends are likely to continue, as well as what the implications could mean for your business.

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Flash comments

Regular commentary on the main economic data releases and events in Northern Ireland and the UK

  • UK inflation data: March 2018

    UK inflation data: March 2018

    Commenting on the latest figures, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe said:

    “CPI inflation in the UK fell from 2.7 per cent in February to 2.5 per cent in March 2018.

    “This latest reading means that inflation is now at its lowest rate since March of last year and has fallen by 0.5 percentage points already in 2018.

    “For UK consumers, this fall in inflation is the second bit of good news in as many days as the latest labour market data showed a rise in the rate of wage growth. These two data releases reinforce the view that, going forward, the consumer squeeze is likely to ease gradually.

    “But we shouldn’t lose sight of the fact that inflation is still above the Bank of England’s target and wage growth remains below its pre-financial crisis average. Consumers are unlikely to loosen their purse strings too much over the next couple of months.”

    This comment was published in response to the March 2018 UK inflation data published by the ONS on 18th April 2018.


  • NI labour market data: Dec - Feb 2018

    NI labour market data: Dec - Feb 2018

    Commenting on the latest figures, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe said:

    “The latest Northern Ireland labour market data contained some positive signs. The employment rate increased over the quarter and over the year while the unemployment rate fell.

    “At 27.9 per cent, the economic inactivity rate is still too high and above what it was a year ago. It did decrease over the quarter which is encouraging to see, but there is still substantial room for improvement on this particular measure of the local labour market.

    “In Great Britain, wages increased by 2.8 per cent over the year to December – February 2018 – above the current rate of inflation. With real wage growth now back in positive territory, it seems likely that the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee will go ahead and increase interest rates at their next meeting on 10th May.”

    This comment was published in response to the December – February 2018 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA, and the UK labour market data published by the ONS, on 17th April 2018.


  • One year to Brexit

    One year to Brexit

    Commenting on it being only one year until the UK leaves the EU, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe said:

    “It is now just one year until the United Kingdom leaves the European Union and, despite the progress that has been made to date, there is a significant amount of work still to do before Britain is Brexit-ready.

    “There is still no agreed solution on how a hard border will be avoided between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. With maintaining membership of the EU customs union – which would have gone part of the way to solving the problem – ruled out by the UK Government, other solutions will need to be identified. Most of the focus of the discussions related to Northern Ireland that will take place over the coming weeks is likely to be placed on the ‘backstop’ option. This could see Northern Ireland maintain very close links to the EU in the absence of an alternative way to avoid a hard border. But the UK Government is hopeful that it will find a solution to the border challenge during the detailed trade talks and that the ‘backstop’ won’t be needed.

    “The future trade deal is arguably the most important aspect of this negotiation. But there will not be enough time between now and the autumn, when the withdrawal treaty needs to be agreed, to finalise a full and comprehensive free trade agreement. Therefore, the discussions will have to continue during the transition period. Based on the time taken to conclude past trade deals, even with the additional 21 months that the transition period provides, the timeline is still very tight. And that’s not including the time that may be needed for the Government and businesses to have the processes in place to ensure they are ready for the agreement coming into force.

    “With a year left to run until Brexit day, the chances of a no deal scenario coming to fruition in 12 months are now less than they were just a few months ago. But unfortunately, they are not yet zero.

    “Businesses are still facing a cloud of uncertainty when it comes to their future long-term access to EU markets. While the progress made recently is welcome, the UK Government must keep up the pace in the negotiations. There is no time to lose.”


  • NI labour market data: Oct - Dec 2017

    NI labour market data: Oct - Dec 2017

    Commenting on the latest figures, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe said:

     

    “The Northern Ireland labour market data for October – December 2017 showed that, over the quarter, the three main data points moved in the right direction. The employment rate increased while the unemployment rate and economic inactivity rate both fell.

     

    “However, over the year, it was a much bleaker picture. As has been the case for some time now, the main takeaway was the sharp increase in economic inactivity. The inactivity rate currently stands at 28.4 per cent – 2.3 percentage points higher than a year ago.

     

    “Northern Ireland’s high rate of economic inactivity is a long-standing problem and it can’t be solved overnight. Tackling the issue will require a concentrated effort from both government and businesses. But this will be difficult to achieve in the absence of the devolved institutions and is another point to add to an already long list of why it was so disappointing to see the political talks collapse last week.”

     

    This comment was published in response to the October – December 2017 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 21st February 2018.