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 pieces 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 recent trends in the economy, whether these trends are likely to continue, and what the implications of these trends could be for you.

Email me at conor.lambe@danskebank.co.uk

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Economic reports


Flash comments

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

  • Preliminary 2017 Q4 UK GDP data

    Preliminary 2017 Q4 UK GDP data

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

     “In the last quarter of 2017 UK GDP increased by 0.5 per cent, up from 0.4 per cent in the third quarter of the year.

    “This means that the annual rate of GDP growth in the UK was 1.8 per cent in 2017, which represents a slight fall compared with the growth rate in 2016.

    “One factor that contributed to the modest growth in GDP last year was the squeeze on household spending brought about by the sharp rise in prices. With wage growth failing to keep up with inflation, consumers were more cautious with their spending.

    “Another contributing factor was the negative impact that Brexit-related uncertainty had on business investment.

    “Looking ahead, 2018 is unlikely to see a significant turnaround in fortunes. The consumer squeeze is likely to fade a little, but this is expected to occur gradually. As such, household spending power is likely to remain under some pressure. With uncertainty around Brexit also expected to persist, business investment is unlikely to ‘take off’ over the next twelve months. Danske Bank are forecasting that UK GDP will grow by 1.5 per cent in 2018.”

    This comment was published in response to the preliminary UK GDP data released by the ONS on 26th January 2018.

  • NI labour market data: Sep - Nov 2017

    NI labour market data: Sep - Nov 2017

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

     “Today’s labour market data for September – November 2017 showed that, over the quarter, the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland fell to 3.8 per cent. The inactivity rate also increased slightly but it was encouraging to see a rise in the employment rate.

    “However, when compared with a year ago, the data is less positive. The unemployment rate was lower than in the previous year. But the employment rate fell compared to the same period in 2016 and the inactivity rate increased.

    “Looking forward, we think that the economy will add more jobs in the year ahead, but we expect the average rate of employee jobs growth in 2018 to be lower than in 2017.

    “We also expect the average unemployment rate in 2017 to be around 4.7 per cent and to fall to 4.1 per cent in 2018, both significantly lower than the 5.8 per cent observed in 2016. However, the recent increases in Northern Ireland’s economic inactivity rate means that this expected fall in the annual unemployment rate is not as positive as it might have first appeared.”

    This comment was published in response to the September – November 2017 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 24th January 2018.

  • UK inflation data December 2017

    UK inflation data December 2017

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

    “The CPI inflation rate in the UK fell slightly from 3.1 per cent in November to 3 per cent in December.

    “After starting 2017 at a little under the Bank of England’s target of 2 per cent, inflation in the UK ended the year one percentage point above the target rate.

    “The increase between the first and last months of the year was mainly a consequence of the sharp depreciation in sterling that followed the Brexit vote. For consumers in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, the squeeze on spending power throughout 2017 which was brought about by this rise in inflation, has probably been the most direct and recognisable impact of the UK’s decision to leave the EU so far.”

    This comment was published in response to the December 2017 UK inflation data published by the ONS on 16th January 2018

  • NI labour market data: Aug - Oct 2017

    NI labour market data: Aug - Oct 2017

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

    “The latest labour market data shows that the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland has now fallen to 3.9 per cent, lower than the UK rate of 4.3 per cent.

    “However, on other indicators, the comparison with the wider UK economy makes for more unpleasant reading. The 68.1 per cent employment rate in Northern Ireland is still considerably below the UK rate of 75.1 per cent and is also the lowest employment rate across all the UK regions.

    “Northern Ireland’s inactivity rate of 29.0 per cent is considerably above the 21.5 per cent observed across the UK as a whole. It is the highest of the twelve UK regions.

    “The data published today showed a relatively sharp increase in Northern Ireland’s inactivity rate. Given that unemployment fell but employment also came down, it is likely that some people who had previously been without a job but searching for one, stopped looking for work and moved into the economically inactive category.

    “Looking at the economically inactive people who are of working age, 18 per cent or around 61,000 people, would like to work. Finding ways to successfully help this relatively large group of people to find a job is not a simple task – the fact that Northern Ireland has had a high rate of inactivity for some time proves that point – but it should be a key aim of policymakers in the years ahead.”

    This comment was published in response to the August - October 2017 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 13th December 2017.

  • UK inflation data: November 2017

    UK inflation data: November 2017

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

    “CPI inflation in the UK increased from 3.0 per cent in October to 3.1 per cent in November. This is the highest inflation rate since March 2012.“Over the past twelve months, inflation has increased sharply – in November 2016, it stood at 1.2 per cent. This rise has taken its toll on consumers this year as wage increases have not kept pace with the rate of price rises.“Looking forward, inflation is not expected to rise too much higher than its current rate.

    But with the rate of price growth still above the rate of wage growth, the consumer squeeze is likely to continue holding back economic growth in Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK as we move into the new year.”

    This comment was published in response to the November 2017 UK inflation data published by the ONS on 12th December 2017.

  • NI labour market data: Jul - Sep 2017

    NI labour market data: Jul - Sep 2017

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

    “Today’s labour market data revealed that the unemployment rate in Northern Ireland fell sharply to 4 per cent over the July – September period, but this was accompanied by a decrease in the employment rate and a large rise in the inactivity rate.

    “Broadly speaking, this implies that rather than the unemployment rate coming down as people move into work, people seem to be moving from being unemployed to being economically inactive.

    “A high rate of economic inactivity is a long standing challenge in Northern Ireland. The current inactivity rate is the highest since April – June 2010, is the highest of the twelve UK regions and, at 28.9 per cent, is more than seven percentage points above the rate for the UK as a whole.”

    This comment was published in response to the July - September 2017 Northern Ireland labour market data published by NISRA on 15th November 2017.