Business Life, a Channel Islands-based magazine aimed at the financial sector, commissioned Phil to look at whether Europe was suffering from Japanisation – a structural shift to a low growth, low inflation near-zero interest rates that the Asian superpower has seen for almost 30 years.
He spoke to many analysts including Holger Schmieding at Berenberg Bank who disputed the idea that Japan was “suffering”, Andrew Milligan at Aberdeen Standard Investments looked at the impact on banks and advisers to high wealth individuals and Amit kara at the National Institute of Economic and Social Research highlighted the challenge that investment managers will face to secure higher yields in Europe and other Japanised economies.
The article is here.
Phil has been commissioned to write a weekly column on economics and related issues for The Independent news website.
The first column on 6 January looked at how Boris Johnson’s focus on getting Brexit done means that he is ignoring Britain’s parlous record on productivity – which is the real key to future long-term economic growth.
The second column on 13 January dismissed Domald Trump’s “greatest ever” trade deal with China and argued that the US president has declared war on the multilateral trade system by refusing to allow judges to be appointed to the World Trade Organization’s appeals court, so leaving the world vulnerable to ongoing tit-for-tat trade wars.
Phil was one of 85 economists and analysts asked to submit their answers to four questions about the outlook for the UK economy in 2020. The five questions and (edited) answers were:
1. Will the UK see a ‘Boris bounce’ in growth in 2020, and how long will any improvement last? “No. The stock market may be going gangbusters but real economic activity will be constrained by continued uncertainty over Brexit.”
2. To what extent will fiscal stimulus support the economy in 2020 and beyond? “To some extent. The previous Johnson government announced £11.7bn in current spending for public services but the manifesto added just £2.3bn by 2024. By definition, that will add some fiscal stimulus (and is a welcome change from austerity) but it is not the game-changer envisaged by Labour.
3. Will households feel better or worse off at the end of 2020? “With economic activity not likely to soar and productivity growth remaining weak, that seems unlikely. The raising of the NI threshold to £9,500 amounts to about £2 a week but that’s hardly going to make a huge difference.”
4. What should the new Bank of England governor change in the conduct of monetary policy? “Not much is likely to change in the first half of the year while the new governor gets his or her feet under the desk.”
The full responses are here
Phil was asked to look at how central banks have effectively taken over financial markets for the Review of 2019 supplement published by Global Capital magazine. He spoke with a number of economists both in the private sector at at multinational institutions and drew ondata from the IMF and BIS. The article is published here.
Phil helped organise the coverage by the magazine GlobalMarkets of the annual meetings of the IMF and World Bank that were held in October 2019 in Washington D.C.. GlobalMarkets is the new name for the magazine Emerging Markets that has covered the meetings of all the multilateral banks for a quarter of a century.
He wrote a number of features analysing key issues that came up at the meetings of the finance ministers and central bankers of the 187 member countries. The features looking at the outlook for the two institutions: the first examined the strategy of new World Bank President David Malpass and the impact he has made so far (here); the second looked at the other new leader – IMF managing director Kristalina Georgieva – and what her tasks here.
He also wrote a number of news stories including: a pledge by new World Bank COO Axel van Trotsenburg to deliver results on the ground (here); a warning by World Bank chief economist Penny Goldberg on the threat deglobalisation poses to its poverty targets (here); and a story on the final stages of the negotiations to secure $80bn for the World Bank’s arm that operates in the poorest countries (here)
He was also heavily engaged in news planning, copy sub-editing and headline writing.
Phil had two articles published in the latest edition of EMEA Finance, the magazine and website covering financial issues across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
One was a profile of the chief economist at the World Bank, Pinelopi Koujianou Goldberg, who has stepped down temporarily from her chair at Yale University to head up the analysis at the world’s largest multilateral lender. She is very focused on inequality and how a shift towards deglobalisation could actually make conditions worse in emerging markets that depend on trade for wealth and wellbeing. The profile is here.
The same issue carried a news story on the announcement by the UK government that it will print a second sovereign Islamic bond in the new years following the success of its £400m issue a few years. John Glen, the economic secretary to the Treasury, insists: “Islamic finance is here to stay. It is not a passing flash in the pan but a resilient and buoyant sector of its own.” The story is here.
I’m attempting my first 100 mile bike ride on the 2019 Prudential RideLondon-Surrey 100 on Sunday 4 August.
I’m riding for Anthony Nolan, a charity that saves the lives of people with blood cancer and blood disorders. It makes lifesaving connections between people with blood cancer and incredible strangers ready to donate their stem cells.
It would love any donations. My only connection that is my office at home backs onto their main offices and I have always wondered about the work they do. If you would like to donate please click here
Phil took part in an online course offered by the World Bank Group, called Unlocking Investment and Finance in Emerging Markets and Developing Economies (EMDEs). The four-week course involved reading a large numbers of articles and book chapters as well as watching a series of videos.
The course looked at: an overview of Investment and Finance in EMDEs; public finance strategies to unlock finance and investment; unlocking private finance and investment; and building robust financial markets and institutions. It included two multiple choice tests, a brief assignment, and amore detailed project. Phil received an overall score of 88% which led to a distinction cerficate.
The certificate is here
The Think.ING website has looked at how central baks have changed how they communicate with the public, drawing from behavioural science to simplify their message and reach more people. Phil looked at how central banks must also ensure their messages are heard in an increasingly noisy media environment where there are many new suppliers of news thanks to the growth of the internet and use of mobile apps.
The article looks at research into how central banks have fine-tuned their messaging and used different channels with different versions of the same message to appeal to a wider range of people.
The premier example was Jamaica where the central bank has issued a series of videos on Twitter and other social media in recent months featuring reggae singers and musicians telling viewers that if inflation is too high “the people have a cry” and “if it’s too low the country nah grow”.
The lesson is that as populism threatens the established order and digital and social media expand their reach, it is only a matter of time before other central banks recognise the need for plain talking. The blog post is here.
The need for people to have digital skills to do their job is becoming more urgent as the fourth industrial revolution sweeps through industries such as financial services. The Chartered Institute of Securities and Investment is looking at the threat of digital skills shortages, how ity will affect firms and what they and other organisations are doing about.
The first stage was a review of the landscape that Phil carried out, drawing on the large volume of research out there and filtering it to draw out the key messages. The article is here. It includes a poll that will provide material for future articles. The CISI will publish a longer article later in the year that Phil is currently researching.