Chris Giles Profile picture
Economics Editor, FT
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11 May
BoE upgraded forecasts disguise a much more gloomy assessment for economy - the central bank revised down the growth forecast for future quarters, only increasing the assessment of the past… via @financialtimes
@FinancialTimes Safe to say this was not the impression given by governor Andrew Bailey last week or the message received by him, but these are the forecast changes

They lend weight to Andy Haldane's argument that growth might well be stronger
@FinancialTimes Certainly, spending growth has not been slowing down because growth was better than feared in the third lockdown
Read 4 tweets
7 Apr
Scoop with ⁦@JamesPoliti⁩ and ⁦@Aime_Williams

The US really wants to make its global minimum corporate tax plan work and has just made a big concession to other countries in a bid to sue for peace internationally
If others roll back their digital taxes, US has recognised for the first time they should have the right to a slice of revenues from the likes of Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon etc based on sales in their jurisdictions
The suggestion is that apportionment rules should apply to all the sales on just the largest and most profitable multinationals globally. The results would be similar to those proposed by the OECD, but without specifically targeting digital companies (although they all be caught)
Read 4 tweets
3 Apr
This is the story of the rising price of identity politics. It’s not about the viability of an independent Scotland.

Obviously it’s viable, if people want to pay (like Brexit) but the price has gone up


The chart shows the moving parts
- oil (worth next to nothing now)
- worsening Scottish revenues
- no longer any U.K. fiscal consolidation planned, so Scotland can’t assume the U.K. will do it’s fiscal dirty work for it any more

Since the SNP commissioned 2018 sustainable growth commission, the fiscal gap needed to be filled has doubled from 2.9% of GDP to 5.7%

Note: this uses all of the SNP’s standard assumptions, which would be challenged by London in independence negotiations

Read 7 tweets
2 Mar
Who subsidises whom in the UK?

A much argued question with some clear answers

Sunak now faces pressure to lower tax on the Red Wall northern seats because they say they are unfairly treated on tax, paying too much and on spending, not getting the transport spending of London

Eg Miriam Cates, new Tory MP for Penistone and Stocksbridge

There are now loads of funds for levelling up
- the towns fund
- the levelling up fund
- the shared prosperity fund
- changes to the green book for investment

You’d have thought that London and the South East had been partying on the backs of northern tax revenue

Read 9 tweets
21 Feb
There is a vaccine effect now in the UK, but it is dwarfed by the lockdown effect
- With case numbers still high, suggests a need for caution
- but a delicate balance on opening up because the virus and lockowns hurt

latest with @jburnmurdoch…
@jburnmurdoch The obvious thing here is that the decreases have been almost as large in unvaccinated groups
@jburnmurdoch And the UK's lockdown and health policies have been more successful than in Israel, even with far fewer vaccinations
Read 4 tweets
16 Feb
The US is undertaking the greatest economic experiment since the Reagan reforms in the early 80s

Will this be Biden’s moment, or will it resemble Mitterrand’s France in 1981?
The US economy did well last year, not by controlling Covid, but by borrowing and spending. A lot.

Now it plans to go further, using more borrowing and spending to put its economy on a better path than pre pandemic

The assumption is it can do better. Quickly. Complete reversal from post financial crisis where everyone accepted lasting economic scars and painful fiscal consolidation

Read 5 tweets
6 Feb
Disappointingly, there isn't a vaccine effect in the English coronavirus case data yet when looked at by age

There seem to me to be three plausible explanations
1) Be patient
2) English over 80 cases were affected by other forces - eg outbreaks again in care homes
3) The one-shot vaccine isn't as effective as two for older groups

These are not mutually exclusive
Read 5 tweets
2 Feb
UPDATE: After today's @ONS data, the latest estimate for the number of excess deaths in the UK linked to coronavirus is


Note that 50,000 of these have happened in the second wave, so don't let anyone say death numbers are normal

@ONS The one thing that is true is that in the second wave, excess deaths (compared with the 5 year average) are lower than the count of deaths wihtin 28 days of a positive test and coronavirus mentions on death certificates

@ONS There are two valid interpretations of this

1) Some would have died anyway eg from flu in a normal year. See @d_spiegel

2) Now we're better at preventing flu with social distancing the 5 year average is wrong, so excess deaths is an underestimate @statsgeekclare

Read 5 tweets
26 Jan
Here is the grim UK death total by different ways of measurement - all above 100,000

28 days since positive test

Death certificates with Covid mentioned

Excess deaths
And how the charts look on a daily basis

Charts courtesy of @jburnmurdoch
Excess was higher in first wave because testing for the virus was so poor.

It's lower in the second wave because there have been fewer non-Covid-19 deaths than usual - likely to be due to social distancing limiting other respiratory illnesses
Read 5 tweets
19 Jan
UPDATE: Following today's @ONS data for England and Wales, my estimate of the number of UK excess deaths linked to coronavirus since mid March 2020 has surpassed a new grim milestone of


Of these, 94,745 have been recorded officially, the remainder are estimates

@ONS There is now strong evidence that the number of excess deaths accelerated as the second wave became more intense towards the end of December - estimates of the daily totals rise significantly

But are still well below the spring peak

@ONS It no longer appears true that excess deaths in the second wave are lower than the daily death totals

Why? My hunch is that as waves intensify, hospitals find it harder to save those who would have survived when pressures lighter

Read 9 tweets
18 Jan
Want some good news?

The UK is doing well on vaccinations - domestically on track to hit its targets and internationally… via @financialtimes
@FinancialTimes In the most recent week, there were nearly 1.8m first jabs given and it's been speeding up (apart from the weekend)
@FinancialTimes This puts the UK fourth in the world at the end of last week with a vaccination rate twice the best placed other European county, Denmark
Read 6 tweets
12 Jan
UPDATE: A grim set of official figures today on deaths means my estimate of the number of people in the UK who have died since mid March linked to coronavirus is


After a recent acceleration, UK is on course to hit 100,000 by Saturday

Patterns of bank holidays around the end of the year add to uncertainty, but I have been cautious and there has been a recent
inflection point in excess deaths in the data across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland

Excess deaths rose from mid Dec

Excess deaths had been lower than deaths in hospitals for the whole of the second wave, but in the past two weeks that has no longer been the case.

It suggests fewer people dying of Covid-19 were particularly vulnerable and would have probably died anyway.

Read 6 tweets
11 Jan
There is a remorseless mathematical connection between infections of the over 60s, hospital admisstions, occupied beds, ICU numbers and deaths.

None is looking great - hence the huge concern about the NHS… via @financialtimes
@FinancialTimes Infections of the Over 60s is still rising fast in the latest data. Nothing more than the faintest glimmer of a turning point
@FinancialTimes The same with admissions in England, which have quadrupled since early December
Read 7 tweets
8 Jan
What to make of 1,325 deaths within 28 days of a postive Covid test today

A record on this measure

1) It's bad

2) With 40% not in hospitals, suggests a rising crisis in people's homes and care homes again - that's really bad...

But Image
3) It does need to be put in the context of excess deaths which are running at about 300 a day up to Christmas

4) And since the daily figure was a severe underestimate of the spring peak, this is not a record yet. Excess deaths peaked at about 2,000 a day in April Image
Don't let the more modest excess deaths so far fool anyone into thinking this is mild or like a bad flu year

Since October there have been 19,000 excess deaths in England and Wales. In the last big flu season (2017-18), there were 7,762 in the same period.
Read 6 tweets
6 Jan
Another set of grim Covid data today - daily cases, hospitalisations and deaths up...

That's the big news, but there are a few silver linings in the details of the data

1/… via @FinancialTimes
@FinancialTimes Some of the worst hit areas for positive cases have stopped getting worse. This is Medway, but the feature applies more generally...

This is Medway, but it applies to v local areas too.

No one should get too excited, the numbers show little sign of decling much

2/ Image
@FinancialTimes There has been somethingof a levelling off in London too in the random testing done by ONS

V early days, but gives hope that the lockdown can work to reduce caseload

3/ Image
Read 6 tweets
6 Jan
UPDATE: following the latest ONS figures, my best estimate of the number of excess UK deaths linked to Covid-19 since mid-March is


The increase in the second wave has been slower, but longer and more relentless than the first wave

1/ Image
The estimates this week are more speculative than normal because

a) Scotland and Northern Ireland have not published weekly mortality figures since before Christmas

b) England and Wales data had one bank holiday rather than 2 for this week in the year

This means...

If I had used the raw ONS figures, (3,566 excess deaths E&W) it would have produced estimates too high and obviously wrong.

So I had to make adjustments, which I hope were reasonable to keep the trend stable. We will find out next week.

Read 6 tweets
3 Jan
Why the prime minister said additional measures might* be necassary


1) Almost no local areas in England are now Covid-free (worse than early Nov)
2) Local areas with high prevalence rates are soaring

There is an exception for the very highest rates, which is probably just noise (but something to watch)
3) And the mean rate per local area (middle layer super output areas with roughly 7,500 in each) is rising very rapidly

Note: this data is up to 28 December. When 29th is added today, it will look worse
Read 5 tweets
30 Dec 20
After the latest official figures of UK deaths, the latest estimate of the number of excess deaths since mid March across the UK is


This is a depressing and very high number, but the latest trends are interesting and have some more positive elements

Of this estimate 82,500 have been registered with 3,500 estimated to have occured since the latedt data which runs to 18 December

Interesting facts:

The daily pattern of excess deaths has not accelerated yet even though case numbers have since the end of the November lockdown
There are now 50% more deaths reported by the government & on death certificates than excess deaths in corresponding periods (note December here is not the full month)

This means:
- testing is working now
- Some of those dying with Covid would have died anyway

Read 6 tweets
29 Dec 20

I went to Calais yesterday to look at plans for implementing the Brexit deal at the most important freight border...

...don’t expect a rerun of the pre-Christmas chaos and queues, operators say


Traffic will be low as huge stockpiling to avoid Brexit. The UK won’t be doing much checking; it isn’t ready. And the French infrastructure is impressive at the tunnel and the port

Here is the new customs bays for example, ready to go and look how empty Calais port was

The big question will be the numbers of trucks that rock up without the required £7bn a year of new red tape paperwork

(Yes this is a non tariff barrier Boris)

There are 250 lorry parking places at the French side of the tunnel and customs agents ready to help.

Read 6 tweets
22 Dec 20
When it's all pretty grim on the Covid-19 front, here is a piece of relatively good news...

There are now fewer excess deaths in the second wave than we might have expected

In March and April, there were regularly roughly twice the number to total excess deaths than those recorded by the government after a positive Covid-19 test

In October, November and December, there have been fewer - about 75 to 80% of the number from the daily totals


Obviously, we cannot know for sure, but here are some potential explanations

-It's a blip and excess deaths will start rising.

Unlikely, unless register offices have suddenly changed their practices

Read 10 tweets
18 Dec 20
UPDATE: After the latest data on excess deaths and people dying in hospitals, the up to date estimate of the number of UK deaths linked to coronavirus since mid-March is


This has been a bad week for virus cases, but a good week for excess deaths

Excess deaths were low in England & Wales in the latest data and also in Scotland and Northern Ireland. It might be the effects of the lockdown or it might be a changing relationship between deaths in hospitals and excess deaths.

Daily pattern is v different to first wave

Sadly, with the rapid rise in cases in the past two weeks and signs of acceleration, you'd have to be reckless to think the lower levels of excess deaths will continue

Read 4 tweets