March 2012 Archives
This is turning out to be one of the slowest recoveries on record. In a sense this should be no surprise. Recessions that originate in financial distress take much longer to work through the system and recovery is slower. That's in part why such a rapid pace of deficit reduction was always going to be damaging to growth, as I have repeatedly warned.
Indeed, while the UK may not (yet) have met the technical definition of double dip recession, basically there has been no at all growth in the UK economy since September 2010. Since then we have seen three quarters of falling output and just two quarters of economic expansion. The economy is at best flatlining, and this is a slower recovery than even that seen after the Great Depression of the 1930s.
So, lets just check that I've got this right, can we ?
The main outcome of the Budget is that retired people have had their pasty allowance reduced but to get ahead of the consequences of this change they are besieging service stations to stock up with said comestibles and that's what is causing all the queues ?
The Prime Minister has issued a national challenge:
• to double exports to £1 trillion by 2020;
• to remove the trade deficit by 2020;
• to increase the number of firms exporting by 100,000 by 2020;
• to raise the number of SMEs exporting from the current level of one in
five, to the European average of one in four, by 2020.
So can we meet that challenge?
After months of planning with colleagues at the Birmingham Institute of Art & Design, business partners and engineering design colleagues at Aston University we are finally in the countdown to Birmingham's first Design EXPO in over 100 years which runs from 15th-22nd June and is being hosted by the Mailbox, Birmingham.
We're thrilled to have some of our best-known Midlands brands exhibiting - Jaguar Land Rover, AGA Rangemaster, Birmingham Royal Ballet, Brintons Carpets, Glenn Howells Architects, Acme Whistles, Deakin & Francis and Emma Bridgewater, together with some big national and international names including JCDecaux, the outdoor advertising business.
Obsessionistas, a site dedicated to those passionate about collecting will provide a digital display covering around 20 design archives highlighting our authenticity as the home of design.
In the new edition of The Harvard Business Review (April 2012), Walter Isaacson, the biographer of Steve Jobs; The Exclusive Biography (Little Brown, 2011), provides a distillation of the reasons why the influence of one man was so crucial in making Apple currently the world's most valuable company.
As Isaacson describes, the rise from founding Apple in his parent's garage in 1976 to its current success has been incredible. There can hardly be anyone in the developed world who can claim to be unaware of the influence of Jobs through his products.
Isaacson states that under Jobs leadership seven industries have been transformed: personal computing, animated movies, music, mobile telephones, tablet computing, retail stores and digital computing. Consequently, Isaacson believes, Jobs 'belongs in the pantheon of America's great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford and Walt Disney'.
So how did Jobs do it and what can we learn?
As part of the reforms to higher education (HE) that will usher in undergraduate fees as high as £9000 a year, the coalition government promised - somewhat paradoxically - to encourage lower fees.
To try to do this, the government is redistributing some 20,000 undergrad places from universities to institutions that provide courses costing £7,500 or less a year.
Figures from the Higher Education Funding Council recently showed that some 9,643 places will be reallocated to other universities, with another 10,354 places reallocated away from universities to FE colleges.
There were mixed reports today on what is unfolding in GM Europe. One set of reports suggests that the outlines of a cost-cutting plan could be presented to GM Europe's board next Wednesday, while others suggest this is premature.
What seems clear is that GM Europe is looking to take out around a third of its 1.5 million units of capacity in Europe, and that may well involve the closure of two assembly plants - although CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke recently stated that he would honour a two-year old agreement not to shut any plans before the end of 2014.
He also stated that the firm's plants were operating at only 80 percent capacity (some would say even lower). Such spare capacity is a killer for the industry as it means a failure to achieve economies of scale in assembly, meaning higher costs.
Birmingham's reported business start-up rate amongst 18-24 year olds is, at around 3%, less than half the level for the same age group in London, which stands at about 7%.
Assuming these figures are correct why is our 18-24 year old business start-up rate so much lower?
....Not from any lack of talent or interest amongst our young people, would be my observation.
It is emerging talent like this as well as our established brands that IDEA Birmingham is aiming to showcase at the forthcoming Birmingham Design EXPO 15th-22nd June, at the Mailbox Birmingham.
Less than four months since the announcement of his 'credit easing' programme at the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor has launched the National Loan Guarantee Scheme.
I'm just back from taking part in a fascinating 'Our Economy' Midlands Today Debate on the region's economy, which goes out tomorrow at 11.05pm which has got me thinking about what I'd like to see in the budget later this week.
Despite much talk of the UK economy avoiding a double dip recession and having 'turned the corner', forecasts for the UK economy over the next few years still look pretty grim.
The (supposedly) independent Office of Budget Responsibility (OBR) forecasts that with current economic policies, economic output won't get back to the pre-recession level until 2014; that's six years of output being below the level reached in 2008. That makes the recovery much slower than that after the depression of the 1930s.