Welcome to Confused.co.uk

By | February 26, 2010

financial-dataThere is so much chaff in economic data and opinion these days, it is difficult to know what to think.

First we were told that the UK economy barely limped out of recession in the final quarter of 2009. 0.1% growth in GDP made for an annualised rate of growth of 0.4%. With such weak growth concerns over double dip recessions abounded. Then a textbook based spat between rival groups of economists took place in the national press. Cut government spending or risk a debt crisis, versus keeping spending or risk a continuation of the current economic crisis. The CBI launched into the debate with higher than expected retail figures for the early part of the year, Yippee! Quickly followed by the Office for National Statistics, ONS, releasing data that showed investment spending had collapsed, boo! Today the biggest smoke bomb was let off, with the ONS revising its initial estimate of GDP up to 0.3%, or a compound annualised growth of 1.2%. Welcome to Confused.co.uk!

Unfortunately, there is no online comparison search site, which can help you make sense of the competing economic data. And with economists taking varied and opposing views on the best direction for policy, what can you do?

My best advice is not economic. It instead draws on a discussion with a doctor from A&E. “This must be a challenging job” I ventured. “Not really, pretty easy to tell if someone is critically ill or not. A few vital signs, pulse, breathing, consciousness.” He replied.

You see, experience, pragmatism and the plain obvious are what matter. As a business person you probably have these in spades. Listen to your customers and suppliers, examine your finances, check your revenues and costs and listen to what your employees are telling you. And follow economic data at your peril.

About Damian Ward

Damian studied at the Manchester School of Management before beginning his academic career at Bradford, where he now teaches business economics to postgraduate MBA students. His research interests focus on the financial services sector and he has acted as an advisor to the UK Financial Services Authority. Damian is also the author of the leading textbook, Economics for Business.

Specialties: Business economics, Financial services, Efficiency of the UK mortgage market, Economic predictions

2 thoughts on “Welcome to Confused.co.uk

  1. Chris Bentley

    I thought I was experienced and pragmatic, until a guy from Milton Keynes (I think) told me that I’m actually the slave of some defunct economist…

    More seriously, your A&E doctor wouldn’t find the last quarter’s pulse readings of much use. Most businesses get data every day that is way more up to date than economic statistics will ever be. What we would like of course is sound prediction – knowing whether or not we actually will suffer a double dip would be truly valuable.

    But we’re not going to get it, so its back to the pulse, breathing and consciousness. Good post Damian.

    Chris Bentley
    Head of Corporate Development, Holidaybreak plc
    Exec MBA 2006

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