February Nowcasts!

Last month saw the release of official data on the performance of the Scottish economy in the 3rd quarter of 2017, and confirmed weak headline growth of 0.15%. This month we’ve run our nowcasting model to provide our estimates of economic growth in the Scottish economy in the final quarter of 2017 (2017 Q4) and our first estimates of growth in the current quarter (2018 Q1). We will receive official estimates of growth in 2017 Q4 in a couple of months.

Our latest nowcasts for:

  • GVA growth in 2017 Q4 is 0.31% which, at an annual rate, is 1.25%. This is down a bit from our last estimate at the start of January (which was 1.42%).
  • GVA growth in 2018 Q1 is 0.35% which, at an annual rate, is 1.40%. This is our first nowcast for this quarter.

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January 2018 nowcast update!

Happy New Year to all our blog readers!

As usual for the start of the month, we’ve put our nowcasting model to work to produce some new estimates of economic growth in Scotland.

Next week, official estimates will be released by the Scottish Government of the growth in the Scottish economy in the third quarter of 2017.

In advance of this, we provide our final estimate for 2017 Q3 growth and an update for 2017 Q4 growth as follows:

  • Our nowcast for GVA growth in 2017 Q3  is 0.37% which, at an annual rate, is 1.50%. This is up a little from our estimate last month.
  • Our nowcast for GVA growth in 2017 Q4 is 0.35% which, at an annual rate, is 1.42%. This is essentially the same as reported last month.

With new official data released next week we will be able to evaluate the accuracy of our nowcasting model against these new data. Recall that we did some comparisons between our nowcast estimates and official data in last month’s blog.

The latest Fraser Economic Commentary, released in December 2017, provides an in-depth discussion of the outlook for the Scottish economy.

November nowcast update!


Grant Allan & Stuart McIntyre
http://www.nowcastingscotland.com 
Fraser of Allander Institute, University of Strathclyde


In this blog we provide an update from our nowcasting model of the Scottish economy. This includes an updated estimate for Q3 of 2017 alongside our first nowcast for 2017 Q4.

Our model estimates:

  • GVA growth in 2017 Q3 is 0.32% which, at an annual rate, is 1.28%. On a quarterly growth basis, this is down over percentage points on our estimate of growth in Q3 from last month.
  • GVA growth in 2017 Q4 is 0.34% which, at an annual rate, is 1.37%

Our nowcast model results are summarised over time in the figure below. The period of relatively flat growth through much of 2016 is clearly evident. As we have observed before, our model tends to produce estimates which are less volatile than the first release of GVA but which capture the trend rather well as the figure below illustrates.

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Economic growth in Scotland has been sluggish for some time, reflected in the official data and in our nowcast estimates; this makes the downward revision to our estimate for 2017 Q3 this quarter (of 0.1 percentage points; from 0.43% last month to 0.32% this month) a particular concern.

This downward revision is driven by the continued weakness of a range of indicators of the health of the Scottish economy. While the labour market remains robust, elsewhere in the economy there are signs of substantial weakening. Not least in retail sales where growth was flat in the third quarter of 2017 was flat (0.0% growth). Other indicators of economic activity, such as business investment, are a further cause for concern for the short-term outlook for Scottish growth.

The next Fraser Economic Commentary will be published in December, and we will delve into these trends in more detail there.

June nowcast update!

This blog provides the June 2017 update from our nowcasting model for Scotland.

  • Our nowcast for GVA growth in 2017 Q1 is 0.22% which, at an annual rate, is 0.87%
  • Our nowcast for GVA growth in 2017 Q2 is 0.23% which, at an annual rate, is 0.94%

These results represent a downward revision relative to last months update. In the context of weak economic performance over recent quarters, this suggests that there is little reason to be optimistic about the short-term performance of the Scottish economy.

Looking at the some of the indicators that underpin our model, it is worth making a few comments.

Firstly, the latest Bank of Scotland Purchase Managers Index (PMI) for Scotland registered a value of 50.57. This is down on the average PMI for the first three months of the year which came in at 51.02. It is worth remembering that any value above 50 indicates some degree of positive sentiment, with a larger value representing even stronger growth sentiment/expectations. For comparison, the equivalent measure for the UK in May 2017 was 56.7.

Secondly, retail sales by volume fell for the second quarter in a row (down -0.4% in Q1). This is, notably, the first time since Q1 and Q2 of 2012 that this has been the case. The recent decline in Scottish retail sales largely mirrors a similar fall in GB retail sales (which were down by -1.4% in volume in Q1). However, comparing over the last year (i.e. the most recent data to the same measure the year before) GB retail sales grew by 2.1% while Scotland only grew by 0.2%.

Thirdly, and on a (very slightly!) more positive note, the GfK consumer confidence index showed a slight improvement in Scotland to a value of -13. While still negative, it is slightly less negative than it was. The equivalent UK index has also improved and continues to remain less negative (-5) than Scotland. Remember that weak consumer confidence has persisted in Scotland since 2015, this isn’t a short term fluctuation.

It is widely accepted that recent economic growth in Scotland has been very disappointing. Based on our model results, and examination of some of the underlying data series, there appears little reason to expect to see a substantial improvement in the economic performance of the Scottish economy through the first 5 months of the year when further official data are released in due course.