Which Is Right – Big Businesses, Or Economic Statistics? 

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Which is right - big businesses, or economic statistics?

Nearly all of the macro-economic news coming our way is grim.

Things are not only bad, they are getting worse, is the clear narrative.

Government debt is exploding. There are mass layoffs in banking, tech and even at supermarkets.

Even the mighty US is seeing slower economic growth, even if that growth is a bit better than gloomy expectations.

You wouldn’t think any of this if you only read morning statements to the stock market, which since Christmas have been almost universally upbeat.

My back-of-the-envelope calculation puts it at six profit upgrades to every one profit warning.

The CEO of the Big Company Doing Well is always careful to note “difficult economic conditions” or similar, before he goes on to say how well his business is doing.

The disconnect is quite striking. If enough individual businesses are just fine, surely the macro stuff will take care of itself?

And it is not as if the good news is limited to one sector. The airlines this week reported booming business – Brits are going to have their summer holiday come what may.

Pub sales are also up to near pre-Covid levels.

Banks will be hugely profitable as interest rates rise and bad debts, so far, stay low.

Perhaps business will later play catch-up with the doom predicted by economists. In which case CEOs aren’t very good at seeing around the corner.

Or the economic stats are just wrong.

Either way, someone, or someone’s flak, is going to have some explaining to do…

Press release of the day

Nearly a third of UK pubs are reducing opening hours due to staff shortages, says this from Price Bailey.

The number of pubs in the UK actually rose last year, surprisingly, but the wider picture is grim.

Matt Howard says: “Not only will it become more difficult to justify opening during off-peak hours as energy costs rise but lack of staff will compel more pubs to focus on their most profitable business hours.”

Stories that will keep rolling

1) Will YouGov be affected by the tax affairs of co-founder Nadhim Zahawi?

2) Is Paragon seeing a slowdown in buy-to-let lending?

3) What is the government doing to encourage more global investors?


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