To what extent did Covid cause inflation?

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There is no doubt that as the economy emerged from Covid lockdowns in 2021, the world experienced a surge in inflation, not seen since the 1970s. There are many supply and demand factors, which have caused this unexpectedly high inflation. The first factor is that Covid lockdowns, especially in China and Asia, disrupted global supply …

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Does the UK need to return to austerity?

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The recent surge in UK government gilts is a warning that unfunded tax cuts in a time of high inflation can cause markets to sell off UK bonds and make it harder to finance future government borrowing. After 15 years of ultra-low interest rates and little concern about rising debt, it is a reminder that …

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Costs of Brexit

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The UK voted to leave the EU in May 2016. It formally left the EU on 31 January 2020. The transition period ended on 31 January 2021. At this time, UK trade with the EU is subject to new paperwork, customs checks and import duties. The impact of Brexit has been made uncertain due to …

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Britain’s new winter of discontent

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In 1974, the National Institute for Economic & Social Research made a report about the UK economy, concluding: “It is not often that a government finds itself confronted with a possibility of a simultaneous failure to achieve all four main policy objectives: adequate economic growth, full employment, a satisfactory balance of payments, and reasonable, stable …

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Bond Yields Explained

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  • UK bond yields are the rate of interest received by those holding Government bonds.
  • Governments sell bonds (also called gilts) via the Debt Management Office to fund their budget deficits. Bonds are a way for the government to borrow – a bit like the government taking out a loan.
  • Government bonds are frequently traded on bond markets. Therefore, their market price may be quite different to the original price set by the government.

Example of why bond yield changes

A government may sell a 10-year, £1,000 bond at 5% interest. This means every year the government will pay £50 to the holder of this bond.

  • If demand for government bonds rose, this £1,000 bond would increase in price as investors pushed up the market price.
  • But, the government still pay £50 a year interest until maturity. If the market price of the bond rises to say £2,000, the interest rate (yield) is now 2.5% (50/2,000)
  • Therefore higher demand for bonds leads to lower bond yields.
  • Conversely, if people sell bonds, this pushes up the bond yield (e.g. what happened in UK September 2022)

How a change in price of a bond changes the effective yield

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The law of the bond market

  • As bond value rises, interest yield falls
  • As bond value falls, interest yield rises

Video summary

Recent UK Bond Yields

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Source: Bank of England – 10-year bond yields

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Russia v Europe – Impact of economic sanctions

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In February 2022, western economies imposed sanctions on Russia in response to the invasion of Ukraine. These sanctions were wide-ranging including banning exports of many goods to Russia, freezing Russian foreign reserves and recently the EU has proposed banning Russian oil exports. In response, Russia has retaliated by cutting off gas supplies to Europe causing …

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The UK’s self-imposed economic crisis of 2022 explained

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On Friday 23 September Kwasi Kwarteng the new chancellor introduced a set of tax cuts and energy price guarantees in a measure the treasury described as a ‘fiscal event.’ Yet even as he was reading out his series of unprecedented tax cuts (as share of GDP, 2nd biggest on record), markets took fright, causing the …

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Why rising interest rates would hurt the UK economy

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Interest rates are a tool of monetary policy. When the economy is overheating, the Central Bank can raise interest rates to cool demand and avoid an inflationary boom. In an ideal world, the Central Bank would make small adjustments in interest rates to fine-tune the economy and avoid booms and busts, but the situation the …

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