Robert Peston, economics editor

Robert Peston Economics editor

Welcome to Peston's Picks - for my latest thoughts on the big economic events around the world making us richer or poorer

UK living too high on the hog (again)

  • 23 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Pawnbrokers
Pawnbroker Britain? The UK has a propensity to consume more than it can afford

It is on days like today that I am grumpy with the Office for National Statistics and with myself. Because I would love to usher in Christmas with some positive economic news (or perhaps none at all).

But, as you know, I have been slightly obsessed with the UK's very big current account deficit - the gap between the income paid to, and received from, the rest of the world.

And so I can't bring myself to ignore (curses) today's disclosure that the deficit widened again, to 6% of national income or gross domestic product (GDP), in the three months to the end of October.

That means the current account deficit has been well above 5% of GDP for 15 months, which is the worst it's been since records were first properly collected in the early 1950s.

Here are the quarterly numbers:

Read full article UK living too high on the hog (again)

Where will the oil price settle?

  • 22 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Oil on rig

You may have noticed (on the Today Prog's "Editors Mastermind" this morning) that my memory of my own scribblings is by no means impeccable. Which rather begs the question why you should bother to read on.

But - and please don't hesitate to correct me if I am wrong about this as well - I don't pretend to be delivering Mosaic tablets. I aspire to the composition of digital chip wrapping (pun intended).

Read full article Where will the oil price settle?

Richer at last?

  • 17 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Wage rise

It has been a journey of a good six years, give or take the odd blip, but weekly earnings do now seem to be pulling ahead of Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation.

This is especially true of the private sector, which accounts for 82% of jobs (and rising) - where average weekly earnings rose 2.2% in October, compared with inflation of 1.3% in that month and 1% in November.

Read full article Richer at last?

Russia's fast track to ruin

  • 16 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Russia

Here are the numbers that explain why the Russian economy is imploding in the face of a tumbling oil price and Western sanctions.

Oil and gas energy represents two thirds of exports of around $530bn (£339bn). Without them, Russia would have a massive deficit on its trade and financial dealings with the rest of the world - which is why Russia's central bank expects a capital outflow of well over $100bn this year and next.

Read full article Russia's fast track to ruin

Government legislates for £30bn of cuts or tax rises

  • 15 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Sterling notes and coins

In announcing new targets for reducing the deficit and debt as a share of national income in the next Parliament, have the Tories and Liberal Democrats put Labour on the spot or done the main opposition party a favour?

What they are proposing - and Parliament will vote on next year - is that the cyclically adjusted current budget should be in balance by 2017/18 and debt as share of GDP should be falling by 2016/17.

Read full article Government legislates for £30bn of cuts or tax rises

'Mr Market' and Me

  • 15 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Chancellor carries dossier marked "Autumn Statement 2014"

It is not often I am attacked by an Oxford economics professor and a Nobel-prize-winning economist, but I have been - by Simon Wren-Lewis and Paul Krugman - for this blog on the chancellor's autumn statement of two weeks ago.

Here is Wren-Lewis's critique and here is Krugman's.

Read full article 'Mr Market' and Me

Labour's pledge to cut the deficit

  • 11 December 2014
  • From the section Business

Ed Miliband has unilaterally decided that the general election campaign has begun. And what matters about his speech this morning is that it unveils Labour's first pledge for the next parliament - which is to "cut the deficit every year while securing the future of the NHS", and not to initiate any policies that require "additional borrowing".

Many may of course see this as Labour's leader tattooing on the back of his hand, "I must not forget the deficit," following what was widely seen as his gaffe at Labour's conference of omitting to mention it at all in his big address to delegates.

Read full article Labour's pledge to cut the deficit

Who wins from Google tax?

  • 10 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Multinationals and tax protesters
The Chancellor wants multinationals to pay their "fair share" of tax

Perhaps what's most interesting about the government's planned new Diverted Profits Tax, AKA the "Google" tax, is how much noise and debate it has generated, for precious little potential revenue.

The Treasury estimates it will raise £360m a year by 2017/18, which isn't even really a drop in the ocean of this year's £91bn shortfall in what the state is raising in taxes relative to what it spends: the Google tax ain't going to fill the UK's huge and intractable public-sector deficit.

Read full article Who wins from Google tax?

Political risks shake global markets

  • 9 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Chinese stocks
Chinese stocks fell by 5% on Tuesday

The big risks to markets and the global economy right now are political risks, or decisions by governments that spook investors.

We saw that first thing on Tuesday, with a drop of more than 5% in the price of shares on China's Shanghai stock market, seemingly prompted by a new restriction on how investors can borrow - which raised anxieties about the sustainability of the country's debt-financed growth.

Read full article Political risks shake global markets

Interest rate rises 'won't wreck the recovery'

  • 8 December 2014
  • From the section Business
Bank of England

The implication of the Bank of England's new assessment of household indebtedness is that a modest rise in interest rates would not sink the economy, but would be acutely painful for hundreds of thousands of people.

So on a day when many are asking why a rich country such as the UK has a growing need for food banks, it is the social implications of inevitable increases in interest rates that may be more important than the economic effects.

Read full article Interest rate rises 'won't wreck the recovery'

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About Robert

Robert has won numerous awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year, Specialist Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year (twice) from the Royal Television Society, Performer of the Year from the Broadcasting Press Guild, and Broadcaster of the Year and Journalist of the Year from the Wincott Foundation.

Prior to joining the BBC, he was political editor and financial editor of the Financial Times, City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a columnist for the New Statesman and Sunday Times.

He broadcast and published a series of influential reports about the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis.

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