August 2016 Nowcasts

Following the release of the Fraser Commentary last week, today we release the results of our latest nowcasts of the Scottish economy. These are the first to incorporate data on economic activity in June into our estimates, and thus do capture the first week after the Brexit vote. We have also produced our first estimate for Q3 (Jul-Sept), although the nowcast next month will be the first to include data on activity in Q3 itself, and so at this stage we can think of these as estimates based on previous activity and estimates.

Headlines:

  • 2016 Q2 nowcast is 0.29% which, at an annual rate, is 1.17%. This is down on our last nowcast.
  • 2016 Q3 is 0.38% which, at an annual rate, is 1.51%.

In terms of what these suggest about current Scottish growth, three things are worth reiterating.

Firstly, with the closure of Longannet Power station on March 24th 2016, we are expecting Scottish GDP to take a one-time hit. We do not capture electricity generation within our nowcasting model, and so we will not be picking this up in our estimates. Nevertheless, as we suggested here, we expect this one-time event to reduce GDP by up to 0.4% in Q2. What this means is that to avoid a contraction in the Scottish economy the rest of the economy would have to be growing by more than 0.4%.

We are not seeing any evidence of this in our results, indeed our Q2 nowcast (0.29%) is significantly below rate that would be required to avert a contraction in Q2. We have said before that one shouldn’t be overly concerned from an economic perspective about a one—off change in GDP resulting from the closure of Longannet, this represents a ‘levels’ change rather than a fundamental contraction in the Scottish economy.

Secondly, we are continuing to see significant underperformance in the Scottish economy relative to the rest of the UK and also relative to Scotland’s own long—term growth rate. The UK economy as a whole is at or above trend growth rates, and has been for some time. This is not true of Scotland. The Fraser Commentary released last week made clear that there are challenges requiring a robust policy response from both the Scottish and UK Government. What needs to be done by each, are perhaps worth reiterating in full here:

  1. “…the Bank of England and HM Treasury will be required to step forward with an immediate stimulus to counterbalance the headwinds created by both the economic and policy uncertainty and the financial market volatility.”
  1. “…the UK Government has to set out its clear intentions and realistic objectives for the negotiation process. If businesses and investors can be reassured that the mechanisms and processes to negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU are sound and that the overall approach will be to preserve close economic linkages with Europe, this will go a long way to reducing some of the uncertainties.”
  1. “…in time the Scottish Government will need to clarify its own plans for the constitution to avoid adding to the existing uncertainty. At the same time, it must review its domestic policies for growth in the light of the referendum outcome, including any stimulus measures of their own (e.g. re-profiling infrastructure projects).”

Thirdly, the first official statistics on growth in 2016 Q1 were released this month. We blogged about these, including the nature of recent revisions, here. We have been clear that our nowcasting model tends to overestimate economic performance, and thus in interpreting the results we have to bear this in mind. Nevertheless, as we showed here, recent revisions to Scottish GDP have moved the official data closer to our nowcast estimates.

That the Scottish economy is struggling is not news, and hasn’t been for over a year now. That it continues to consistently underperform the UK economy, and has been diverging in recent quarters, is a real worry. The headwinds of the Brexit fallout are still to hit the rest of the UK economy, but hit they will. As the major market for Scottish exports, what happens in the rest of the UK will impact on Scotland’s economy, while future negotiations between the UK and the European Union will shape Scotland and the UK’s short- and long-term economic future.

For details of how the data mentioned above, and other “live” data on Scottish economic activity are used to construct our “nowcasts”, see the Methodology page.


[1] Note as explained in the methodological paper (here), we nowcast gross value added (GVA) rather than gross domestic product (GDP), because this is the regional equivalent of GDP which is produced, but we refer here to GDP for intuitive ease.

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July 2016 Nowcasts

Today (29th June 2016) we release our latest series of nowcasts of the Scottish economy; these are our final estimate of growth in 2016 Q1 and our latest estimate for 2016 Q2 [1].

Headlines:

  • 2016 Q1 GDP growth in Scotland, at an annualised rate, is nowcast to be 1.28%, the quarterly change is nowcast to be 0.32%
  • 2016 Q2 GDP growth in Scotland, at an annualised rate, is nowcast to be 1.52%, the quarterly change is nowcast to be 0.38%

These nowcasts represent a slight upward revision to our nowcasts for 2016 Q1 and Q2.

Despite including data made available during June 2016, these nowcasts are produced using data relating to the economy prior to the EU Referendum result. Thus, while for continuity we release these nowcasts, our expectation is that our future nowcasts, and indeed realisations of Scottish and UK GDP, for 2016 will be lower than those forecast prior to the result of the EU referendum result.

It is likely that the significant uncertainty evident since the announcement of the referendum result will have a negative effect in the short run as business and consumer confidence weakens leading to possible investment decisions either being delayed or cancelled. The increased uncertainty will likely act as a drag on inward investment, and potentially a stalling of other investment decisions, until after the uncertainty about the UK’s position with regards to its future trading arrangement with the EU and other markets is resolved.

That being said, no change to the UK and Scotland’s trading arrangements or labour market status will be confirmed, according to the UK Government, for some time (over two years by some estimates), although continued uncertainty about the future shape that these will take will raise significant challenges for the Scottish and UK economies as the unprecedented process of leaving the EU proceeds in the coming weeks and month.

Against this, the abrupt and sharp weakening of the pound against major currencies seen since the result was announced could make Scottish products more competitive overseas. But previous such periods suggest that there is a question over the price-responsiveness of Scottish exports (and Scotland’s major export markets are seeing their own forecasts revised down). Further, Scottish firms and consumers will see prices rise for imported goods, as these become relatively more expensive.

For details of how the data mentioned above, and other “live” data on Scottish economic activity are used to construct our “nowcasts”, see the Methodology page.


[1] Note as explained in the methodological paper (here), we nowcast gross value added (GVA) rather than gross domestic product (GDP), because this is the regional equivalent of GDP which is produced, but we refer here to GDP for intuitive ease.

June 2016 Nowcasts

Today (2nd June 2016) we release our latest series of nowcasts of the Scottish economy; these are our final estimate of growth in 2016 Q1 and our new estimate for 2016 Q2 [1].

Headlines:

2016 Q1 GDP growth in Scotland, at an annualised rate, is nowcast to be 1.01%, the quarterly change is nowcast to be 0.28%

2016 Q2 GDP growth in Scotland, at an annualised rate, is nowcast to be 1.44%, the quarterly change is nowcast to be 0.36%

These nowcasts represent a continued downward revision for 2016 Q1 and Q2.

Official estimates for Q1 2016 are due to be released next month, and will be incorporated into our next nowcast release.

We will be commenting more in the coming month on the current state of the Scottish economy, but for now we simply reiterate our concern that the Scottish economy is struggling, both in relative (to the UK) and absolute terms. Action to address this current malaise is urgently required.

For details of how the data mentioned above, and other “live” data on Scottish economic activity are used to construct our “nowcasts”, see the Methodology page.

[1] Note as explained in the methodological paper (here), we nowcast gross value added (GVA) rather than gross domestic product (GDP), because this is the regional equivalent of GDP which is produced, but we refer here to GDP for intuitive ease.

May 2016 Scottish Economy Nowcasts

Today (3rd May 2016) we release our latest series of nowcasts of the Scottish economy; these are our latest estimate of the growth in 2016 Q1 and our first estimates for 2016 Q2 [1].

Headlines:

  • 2016 Q1 GDP growth in Scotland, at an annualised rate, is nowcast to be 1.17%, the quarterly change is nowcast to be 0.29%
  • 2016 Q2 GDP growth in Scotland, at an annualised rate, is nowcast to be 1.49%, the quarterly change is nowcast to be 0.37%

These nowcasts represent a continued downward revision for 2016 Q1, and an indication that the economic malaise in Scotland is continuing through Q2 2016. Recall though that these first estimates for Q2 do not use any data on Q2 itself (the first data for April will be released during May and used in our next nowcasts).

In our last blog post, we indicated that by the time of this blog we would have received official data on growth in Q4 of 2015. In addition, with the release of the Q4 data, we received a revised series of GDP data including revisions to Q3 2015 which resulted in the emergence of an economic contraction in contrast to the previous estimate for Q3 of muted growth. The effect of using these revised data is reflected in the downward revision to our estimates for 2016 Q1.

The Scottish economy is really struggling, both in relative (to the UK) and absolute terms. That so little focus has been given to this reality in the ongoing election campaign is puzzling. Nevertheless, it is important that the incoming Scottish Parliament give immediate attention to the ongoing economic torpor in Scotland, and give fresh impetus to efforts to boost Scottish economic growth.

For details of how the data mentioned above, and other “live” data on Scottish economic activity are used to construct our “nowcasts”, see the Methodology page.


[1] Note as explained in the methodological paper (here), we nowcast gross value added (GVA) rather than gross domestic product (GDP), because this is the regional equivalent of GDP which is produced, but we refer here to GDP for intuitive ease.