What is going to happen to the UK economy over the next few years? The general consensus is that the worst of the recent crisis is behind us and we can therefore expect modest growth ahead. However, my pamphlet published by Civitas on 25 March called 'There is an Alternative', paints a much gloomier picture of the future if policies remain as they are. With a radical change in policy, which the pamphlet explains in detail, the UK economy could grow at 4% to 5% per annum on a sustainable basis, unemployment could be made fall dramatically, debts would get paid off and the economy would become far better balanced. How much of all of this is realistic?
Increased spending, confidence and confidence in the future all bodes well for the future. But let's not get too excited. It is clear that beneath these headlines, many consumers are still struggling. For instance, positivity over prospects for future personal finances varies significantly across the UK. Londoners and people in the West Midlands are much more likely to feel positive about their future finances than those in the North West or in Wales.... Our data shows men are more likely than women to be feeling positive about their financial situation...
If you've never heard of, or don't understand, words like GDP, quantitative easing or even corporation tax, then I have a suggestion: the next time Alex Salmond or Alistair Darling try to persuade you to vote one way or the other with neat sound bites, scaremongering or wild assumptions, turn them off and do a bit of research on economics instead.
It's good for the economy if action by regulators helps drive consumer demand for the best businesses, supporting their growth, incentivising efficiency and innovation. That, obviously, is what Which? has been about since the 1950s. But is the present system of consumer protection up to the job?
No industry in Britain is immune to the challenges of growth and each sector has its own demons - from the collapse of trust in banks and energy providers, to patent limitations facing pharmaceutical companies and the accelerating shift from the shop on the high street to the shop in your pocket.
Bankers get millions in bonuses, footballers earn thousands every week: we all know the clichés. The market says this is what they are worth, but the general public don't really believe that. Do they earn this money, really? Can anyone do a job that genuinely, demonstrably, should produce that kind of reward?
Whatever the make up of the next government - one thing is for certain - it will need to find more revenue. All parties are committed to deficit reduction, and as services and benefits have already been cut to the bone, the only way is to increase taxes on those who can afford it most. Raising taxes is always politically tricky.
I realise that that seems like an especially surprising statement given that the deficit has come down by a third, our balance of trade is improving, there are more people in work than ever before, unemployment and youth unemployment is coming down, and growth rates have surpassed expectations and are predicted - by the IMF amongst others - to continue to do so.
In this current economic climate many businesses throughout London and the rest of the UK are operating against very tight margins, meaning any proposals which could potentially disrupt or increase the cost of core services they rely upon on a day-to-day basis could have serious consequences.
Our major survey of British family finances finds that 15 million people are already showing signs of financial difficulty, 13million wouldn't have the savings to keep up with their essentials bills for a month if their income dropped by a quarter, and 16million would consider using unsecured credit to keep up with essentials.
On March 18th Governor Carney unveiled a major reorg. at the Old Lady, naming two new Deputy Governors , with Ben Broadbent becoming Deputy Governor responsible for monetary policy, taking over for Charlie Bean, who retires at the end of June. This creates a vacancy on the MPC, as Broadbent is already on the committee.
I hate the Wonga puppets. Partly, that's just because the nightmare-inducing little monsters creep me out. But mainly I hate them because they keep popping up in my inbox, asking me if I want to win a PS4 or join their 'social site'...
To mere mortals, 'debt' is a four-letter word - something to be eschewed on pain of the workhouse or some equally grizzly fate. There's a whole industry in the UK that focuses on debt collection - lawyers, bailiffs and professional debt collectors who go by a number of rather fanciful 'noms de guerre'.
No one can plausibly be in favour of the rebalancing the British economy, boosting exports and supporting sustainable growth while being in favour of leaving the EU... It is inconceivable to sacrifice the success of our most successful manufacturers to satisfy knee-jerk isolationism.
Slowly but surely, Europe's economy is starting to recover. After more than half a decade of stagnation, the EU commission forecasts real GDP growth in the EU of 1.5% in 2014, rising to 2.0% in 2015. This is all well and good, but of greater importance is whether improvements in the economy translate into more jobs and higher pay.
If the industry doesn't get things right they only need to look to other failing markets to see what might be in store. With the referral of the energy market to the competition commission last week, Which? wants wider recognition that radical action is needed when competition is failing and markets aren't working for consumers.