Box sets » Economic and fiscal outlook - December 2012
Revisions to National Accounts data are a normal part of the Blue Book process, which reconciles the different measures of GDP and incorporates information from annual data sources. This box explored the different picture of the late 2000s recession and recovery in light of the 2012 Blue Book.
In October 2011, we published our first Forecast evaluation report (FER). This box summarised the key findings, including a discussion of weaker than expected GDP growth and why, despite this, public sector borrowing has fallen broadly as we expected it would.
Our latest estimates of the output gap - which extended up to the third quarter of 2012 - implied a narrowing of the output gap since our previous forecast, despite actual output having remained broadly flat. Given the strength in the labour market over the period suggested a sharp fall in trend total factor productivity (TFP). This box set out the methodology behind that assessment, based on a production function approach that allowed us to separate out productivity growth into contributions from capital deepening and TFP.
Productivity growth since the late-2000s recession has been relatively weak. This box set out some proposed explanations for that weakness, including measurement issues, lower investment, compositional effects, labour market factors and impaired financial markets. Most commentators believed that some combination of these factors was likely to be responsible. The relative importance of these factors also has implications for the extent to which the shortfall was believed to be demand or supply-related.
In each Economic and fiscal outlook we publish a box that summarises the effects of the Government’s new policy measures on our economy forecast. These include the overall effect of the package of measures and any specific effects of individual measures that we deem to be sufficiently material to have wider indirect effects on the economy. In our December 2012 Economic and Fiscal Outlook, we made adjustments to our forecasts of real GDP, inflation and property transactions
The Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS) was launched by the Bank of England and the Government in July 2012 to encourage banks and building societies to expand their lending by providing funds at lower rates than prevailing market rates. This box discussed the uncertainties associated with the transmission mechanism of this scheme and the possible impact on real GDP.
The Financial Policy Committee (FPC) was set up after the financial crisis to oversee the stability of the financial system. This box discussed the specific macro-prudential tools the FPC can apply and their potential implications for the economy and our forecasts.
In the two years before our December 2012 forecast, real government consumption held up more than we had expected, with reductions in nominal government consumption affecting prices to a greater extent than we forecast. This box set out how these outturns would have been affected by the way the Office for National Statistics measures real government consumption, a large part of which is based on 'direct' measures of government activity.
In 2012 the ONS carried out a range of methodological development work relating to consumer prices indices. This box summarised some of the key elements, including work addressing the 'formula effect' which had made an increasing contribution to the CPI-RPI 'wedge' in 2010 and 2011. This box also discussed ONS analysis and recommendations from Consumer Prices Advisory Committee on the appropriate measurement of owner occupiers’ housing (OOH) costs and their inclusion in a new index of consumer prices.
In recent years, the government consumption deflator had been weaker than we expected. This box set out our assumption that the weakness of the government consumption deflator was likely to persist over the forecast period. The box also reviewed the outlook for the household consumption deflator and explained our assumption that this would be broadly equal to CPI inflation in the long run. Taken together with our assumptions for other deflators, these assumptions implied a medium-term GDP deflator growth assumption of 2 per cent, revised down from a previous assumption of 2.5 per cent
Our general government employment (GGE) forecast is based on projections of the growth of the total government paybill and paybill per head, which is in turn based on the Government's latest spending plans. In this box we compared our GGE forecast against the outturn data since the start of the 2010 Spending Review period. This allowed some assessment of how public sector employers were progressing with their intended workforce reduction and how much adjustment would still be required.
During the financial crisis, both Bradford & Bingley (B&B) and Northern Rock (Asset Management) (NRAM) were transferred to public ownership. The ONS has announced that it will reclassify both bodies into the central government sector. This box outlined the impact of the reclassification on our fiscal forecast.
In this forecast there were two policy switches that shifted spending between RDEL and AME, which applied from 2013-14 onwards. These policies were for the 50 per cent retention of business rates for local authorities in England, and for localised council tax reduction schemes. This box outlined these changes and examined the subsequent impact these would have on our forecasts.
In Chapter 4 of our December 2012 EFO, we discussed the fiscal outlook for 2012-13 to 2016-17. In this box, we discussed changes to the provisional universal credit forecast that was included in our March 2012 EFO. Changes to the forecast were due to a number of factors, including policies announced at Budget 2012 and finalisation of policy parameters in universal credit as well as .refinements to the methodology and assumptions used to forecast universal credit. We also discussed the main uncertainties in the forecast, which largely related to the unpredictability given the scale of the policy. The analysis in this box has since been superseded by developments in the universal credit forecast, though many of the key uncertainties remain.
The Government undertook a number of interventions in the financial sector in response to the financial crisis and subsequent recession of the late 2000s. This box provided an update of the estimated net effect of them on the public finances as of December 2012.