UK Economy in 2013

Summary of UK Economy at the Start of 2013

The UK economy starts 2013 after one of the longest periods of economic stagnation on record. GDP has been flat for the past two years, and real GDP is still way below the 2008 peak.

Despite the depressing picture of economic growth, unemployment (7.9%) is much lower than might be expected given the sluggish nature of economic growth. However, if we count under-employment (e.g. working fewer hours than would like) and disguised unemployment, then the picture is much less promising.


Consumer confidence remains low as most people have been affected by the unwelcome combination of high inflation and low wage growth. Inflation fell in 2012, but in 2013, we again may see some unwelcome return of cost-push inflation – prices rising despite the output gap.

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Forecast for Pound Sterling in 2013

A look at the future prospects for the Pound in the coming months of 2013.

Sterling index

The Sterling index measures the value of the Pound Sterling against a basket of trade weighted currencies.

  • In  Dec 2011 the index was 80.4
  • By Oct 2011, the exchange rate index has increased to 83.6

This modest appreciation in the Pound has occurred despite:

  • Double dip recession in UK
  • UK Inflation remaining above target
  • Growing current account deficit
  • Quantitative easing increasing money supply.
  • One of largest budget deficits in OECD

Therefore the appreciation in the Pound is not so much a reflection of the strength of the UK economy – but a reflection of market nervousness about other currencies. In particulary, given the Euro crisis and difficulties of Eurozone economies, the Pound offers a greater semblance of normality and confidence.

However, given the weak state of the UK economy, it is likely that the fortunes of the Pound could deteriorate in 2013 – especially against the dollar and currencies other than the Euro.

In particular, the growing UK current account deficit (now over 5% of GDP) suggests underlying lack of balance between imports and exports.


The UK has one of the largest current account deficits in the OECD. There are other reasons to explain the current account deficit, but the widening of the deficit to over 5% of GDP, suggests the Pound is becoming more uncompetitive against its main rivals. In a floating exchange rate, this is likely to lead to some depreciation in the future.

Read moreForecast for Pound Sterling in 2013

Why Government Debt Forecasts were wrong

One feature of the recent crisis has been the degree to which governments underestimated the forecast rise in government borrowing. The IMF produced a report which looked at forecast debt from 2007, and what debt actually was three years later. In ten selected countries, the increase in the gross debt ratio 31.8

  • 2007 forecast for debt in 2010 – 58.8% of GDP.
  • Actual government debt in 2010 – 90.6% of GDP

To some extent, this reflects the wider failure to forecast the recession. As well as underestimating debt levels, governments proved widely optimistic on GDP and unemployment. However, the recession wasn’t the only reason for governments to underestimate debt levels. There were also failures to account for liabilities, such as hidden obligations to public corporations and Public private finance initiatives. This shows that many countries need to improve their fiscal transparency.

  • Fiscal transparency can be defined as the clarity, reliability, frequency, timeliness, and relevance of public fiscal reporting and the openness to the public of the government’s fiscal policy-making process.

Why Forecasts were Wrong

There was quite a degree of variability in why debt forecasts were wrong. For example, in the UK there was only a minor underestimation of its fiscal position (3.7% of GDP). Most of the UK’s higher than expected debt were a consequence of the unexpected recession and financial sector intervention.

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