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: July 2018

    UK inflation data: July 2018

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

    “Inflation in the UK increased for the first time since last November, rising from 2.4 per cent in June to 2.5 per cent in July.

    “One of the factors behind this rise was higher oil prices. Consumers will have felt the impact of this via higher prices at the pumps. The annual inflation rate for diesel increased from 12.6 per cent in June to 13.8 per cent in July. For petrol, there was an increase from 11.1 per cent to 11.7 per cent.

    “Higher oil prices also had an impact on manufacturing businesses with the rate of input price inflation rising for the fifth consecutive month. The current rate of 10.9 per cent is significantly higher than the 3.9 per cent observed in February. This increase in costs could work its way through the supply chain and put some upward pressure on consumer prices, slowing the gradual move in CPI inflation back towards the Bank of England’s 2 per cent target.

    “With inflation still relatively high, consumers’ purchasing power remains under pressure and, as a result, increases in household spending over the next few quarters are likely to remain modest.” 

    This comment was published in response to the July 2018 UK inflation data published by the ONS on 15th August 2018.


  • NI labour market data: Apr - Jun 2018

    NI labour market data: Apr - Jun 2018

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

    “The Northern Ireland labour market softened slightly in April – June as the employment rate decreased and the unemployment rate rose from a record low in the previous quarter.

    “Despite the increase, the unemployment rate is still 1.5 percentage points lower than last year. The Northern Ireland unemployment rate has also been below the UK-wide rate for the last four quarters.

    “To really understand the performance of a labour market, it’s important to look at more than just the headline rate of unemployment. Northern Ireland still has the highest rate of economic inactivity across the twelve UK regions. The percentage of unemployed people who have been without a job for one year or more is 63.1 per cent in Northern Ireland, much higher than the 26.7 per cent observed for the whole UK.

    “The Northern Ireland labour market is in relatively good shape, but challenges such as these still need to be addressed.”

    This comment was published in response to the April – June 2018 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 14th August 2018.


  • UK GDP data: 2018 Q2

    UK GDP data: 2018 Q2

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

    “The UK economy performed better in the second quarter of the year than it did in the first quarter, but we shouldn’t get too excited about this pickup in growth.

    “The quarterly rate of household spending growth remained relatively subdued as above-target inflation continued to exert some pressure on consumers’ spending power. And while business investment returned to positive growth after declining in the first quarter, Brexit-related uncertainty is still having a negative impact on businesses’ willingness to embark on new strategic investment projects.

    “Despite sterling remaining relatively weak, the data showed that exports fell sharply in the second quarter of the year and net trade made a negative contribution to GDP growth for the first time since 2016.

    “In short, the UK economy is still experiencing a period of positive, but modest, growth.”

    This comment was published in response to the UK GDP data released by the ONS on 10th August 2018.


  • UK interest rate announcement: August 2018

    UK interest rate announcement: August 2018

    Commenting on today’s announcement, Danske Bank Chief Economist Conor Lambe said:

    “As had been widely expected, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) increased interest rates to 0.75 per cent today.

    “This marks the first time that interest rates in the UK have been higher than 0.5 per cent since March 2009.

    “However despite this rise, and the view that interest rates are unlikely to return to the levels they were at before the financial crisis anytime soon, monetary policy in the UK remains relatively supportive for most consumers and businesses.

    “The MPC continued to imply that future rises in interest rates are likely over the coming years. However, these increases are expected to occur only gradually.”

    This comment was published in response to the Monetary Policy Committee's UK interest rate announcement in August 2018. 


  • NI Composite Economic Index: 2018 Q1

    NI Composite Economic Index: 2018 Q1

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

    “Today’s data shows that economic output in Northern Ireland decreased in the first quarter of 2018 when compared with both the fourth quarter of last year and the first quarter of 2017.

    “Compared with the final quarter of 2017, services output increased at the start of this year. However, there was a decrease in output in the production sector and a particularly sharp fall in construction activity.

    “The overall decrease in output is likely to have been driven by a combination of factors. Despite beginning to recover gradually, household spending power remains under some pressure. Bad weather in the early part of the year is likely to have played a role, particularly in the fall in construction output. And the continued uncertainty around Brexit is dampening business investment.

    “Despite the fall in output estimated for the first quarter, the annual rate of economic growth in Northern Ireland for 2018 as a whole is expected to be positive. But with the challenges of constrained consumer spending power and Brexit-related uncertainty likely to persist, the performance of the local economy throughout this year is expected to be underwhelming.”     

    This comment was published in response to the 2018 Q1 Northern Ireland Composite Economic Index released by NISRA on 19th July 2018.