Just last week, Sir Edward George, governor of the Bank of England, admitted that he was surprised by the UK economy’s growth of 0.3% in the first three months of the year, which came against a background of continuing strong consumer demand and robust foreign trade figures.
After recent bad news, these figures were confusing, leaving us wondering if the country is sliding into a recession, slowing down, or in good shape.
This kind of economic uncertainty is always a problem for business. Companies find it difficult to know which figures to believe, or indeed where to find the figures in the first place. And the internet has added to the problem – now that any organisation can put its figures up in cyberspace it is worth sticking with official, reliable sources.
There are numerous economic forecasters out there, several of which need to be paid before you can access some of their more useful information.
But there are also plenty of official sources that will let you have the information for free – the only downside is that the forward-looking analysis may not be as detailed.
First up is the Treasury. Go to www.hm-treasury.gov.uk, hit the ‘economy’ button and then you are a couple of clicks away from recent economic news.
Here you can find summaries of a number of different organisations’ data, including, the EC, IMF forecast and the latest CBI trends survey, as well as inflation figures. If nothing else, these are perfect for throwing into presentations so you can appear informed and up-to-date.
The Treasury also provides a comprehensive round up of forecasts from City institutions and other economic organisations.
The Bank of England is also a good source of information. www.bankofengland.co.uk is packed with a horrible amount of ‘money’ information, but it is worth looking at its publication list and statistics, plus its quarterly reviews and interest rate updates. The site also has good links through to a number of other statistic sites, including plenty with a European flavour.
The site does not have an especially good design, but it is functional and easy to get around. And, if you like to read about monetary policy and how it can affect you, this is the place to be.
For an independent view of economic life, Ernst & Young’s ITEM Club is worth a visit. Its webpages are hosted by Ernst & Young, but can be reached through www.itemclub.co.uk.
Here you will find a number of quarterly reviews and forecasts, plus sector analyses such as its latest report on the technology and communications industry.
The site is easy to navigate with a clean, well laid-out design. It does not overload the reader with information, rather it relies on a few good pages.
If you want to look farther afield, try the OECD’s website at www.oecd.org.
Here you can read the organisation’s latest reports on a number of countries, including the UK, and find a useful international take on local situations the world over.
There is so much information available on this site it can be difficult to know where to start, but it is reasonably clear and you should be able to find what you are looking for quickly.
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