October nowcast of the Scottish economy

Recent economic news on the Scottish economy has struck a slightly more upbeat note about the current pace of economic growth.

This comes on the back of growth over the year to June 2018 – whilst still below average – at its fastest since late 2014/early 2015 and the Scottish economy outpacing the UK for the last two quarters.

While, as set out in our latest Fraser Economic Commentary we remain cautiously optimistic, growth is likely to remain below trend for the duration of our forecast horizon. And overall, the immediate outlook for Scotland’s economy remains highly uncertain.

Against this backdrop, the latest nowcasts of economic growth in Scotland from our nowcasting model have been generated.

Our nowcasting model combines the latest data on a range of indicators, including official data such as unemployment, alongside a range of ‘soft’ indicators of activity like consumer confidence indicators and our own business surveys.

This month the model estimates growth in 2018 Q3 of 0.40%, which, at an annual rate, is 1.61%.

While still below trend, this estimate suggests that growth in Q3 is continuing to tick back up after a couple of years of weak growth.

Survey evidence showing that the outcome of the ongoing Brexit negotiations weighs heavily on businesses. While the recent rise in economic growth is to be welcomed, this incremental improvement could be easily undermined by a failure to agree a Brexit deal.

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August nowcast update…

We have updated our nowcasting model for the Scottish economy with the latest official statistics and survey data to produce new estimates of economic growth in Scotland in Q2 and Q3 of 2018.

  • Our nowcast for GVA growth in 2018 Q2 is 0.33% which, at an annual rate, is 1.34%.
  • Our first nowcast for GVA growth in 2018 Q3 is 0.39% which, at an annual rate, is 1.57%.

Relative to our last nowcast update our estimate for Q2 2018 has improved very slightly (up from 0.32%), but on balance the figures still suggest relatively weak growth.

This week, we’ll get revised official data for the Scottish economy when the next set of National Accounts are published. Summer is usually when more substantial revisions are put through the economic accounts – following publication of the latest Input-Output tables for Scotland in July each year – and these are likely to alter the pattern of past growth in Scotland. We’ll provide a short blog summarising these key changes.

All of this will be followed by – on the 19th of next month – the first set of official data covering the performance of the Scottish economy over the period March – June (Q2).

We’ll pick this issue up in more detail, as well as review the wider economic landscape, in the next Fraser Economic Commentary to be published in late September.

July Nowcast update…

This blog reports the latest estimate of economic growth in Scotland from our nowcasting model. Unlike previous blog posts, this one only includes estimates for one quarter rather than two.

The reason for this is that the Scottish Government have now shortened the time between the end of the quarter and the release of data on that quarter.

Data for 2018 Q1 (January – March) were released on 27th June 2018, only 88 days after the end of the quarter.

While this is still a longer lag in the release of the data than that for the UK as a whole, it is much shorter than the previous publication lag for Scottish data of around 115 days.

Improvements in the timeliness of regional economic statistics are to be welcomed, and statisticians in the Scottish Government should be congratulated for their work in this area.

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June nowcast update!

Slightly later than usual, here are our monthly nowcasts of the Scottish economy, covering the first two quarters of 2018.

Our model suggests that:

  • GVA growth in 2018 Q1 was 0.29%, or at an annual rate 1.18%
  • GVA growth in 2018 Q2 is 0.29%, or at an annual rate 1.16%

Next month the Scottish Government will release official estimates covering the first three months of 2018, against which we can compare our Q1 estimate.

By way of comparison, UK GDP growth in Q1 was only 0.1%. If our nowcasts are correct, this would be substantially weaker than growth in Scotland over the same period.

Similarly, if our nowcasts are accurate, it would also mean that the economy has realised nearly half of the growth that the Scottish Fiscal Commission recently forecast for 2018 as a whole (they estimate growth over the year of 0.7%).

0.3% growth in the first three months of 2018 is nothing to write home about, but it would be better than the UK in the same period, and better than many might be expecting.

Next week the Fraser Economic Commentary, supported by Deloitte, is released. This will contain updated forecasts for the Scottish economy for 2018 and beyond. It will also look in more detail about what the various survey and data releases tell us about the health of the Scottish economy.