UK Economic Prospects Assessed as Rosy for 2015

There is close to a one-in-two chance that UK inflation will breach the Bank of England’s (BoE) target range and fall below one per cent in 2015, according to the newly-launched Warwick Business School Forecasting System (WBSFS).

It forecasts that inflation in 2014 will, in all probability, fall within the BoE’s target range of one to three per cent per annum. However, the downside risks to a breach of the inflation target in 2015 remain high – with a probability of inflation falling below one per cent per annum of 42%. UK inflation in 2015 is likely to fall below the levels recently forecast by both the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and Her Majesty’s Treasury (HMT) panel of independent forecasters (see table below).

UK economic forecast 2015
The WBSFS also predicts that the UK economy is most likely to grow between 3% and 4% per annum in 2015, following gross domestic product (GDP) growth of around 3% in 2014 – although there is close to a one-in-four chance that growth will be less than two per cent in 2015.

Instead of using a single forecasting model or relying on the judgment of the BoE’s monetary policy committee (MPC) the WBSFS combines five state-of-the-art econometric models to produce judgment-free macroeconomic forecasts for UK GDP growth and consumer price index (CPI) inflation.

By using model averaging, following well-established methods in statistics, meteorology and economics, the WBSFS takes a weighted combination of each models’ forecasts, where higher weights are awarded to models which show the better recent forecasting performance. The WBSFS quantifies and communicates the forecast uncertainties by producing probabilistic forecasts.

“The risks to a breach of the BoE’s inflation target in 2015 remain high – close to a one-in-two chance,” said professor James Mitchell, of the economic modelling and forecasting (EMF) group at WBS.

”This is because, according to our judgment-free forecasting system, the probability of inflation falling below one per cent in 2015 has risen sharply – from 13% a quarter ago – to the current expectation of 42%.

“This follows UK inflation recently falling to five-year lows due to weaker oil, food and import prices; and is consistent with continued stagnation and possible deflation in many of the UK’s export markets. Business and policymakers should remain alert to these downside risks; accordingly, we do not expect the BoE to change the bank rate any time soon.”

Professor Ana Galvao, of the EMF Group at WBS, said: “The latest GDP data for Q314 from the Office of national Statistics [ONS] confirms that the economic recovery in the UK continues. Warwick Business School’s forecasts, which condition on these latest GDP data from the ONS, show that looking forward to 2015 the most likely outcome is for annual growth to continue at between three and four per cent.”

But Professor Anthony Garratt, of the EMF Group at WBS, added “There are downside risks to economic growth prospects in 2015. There is close to a one-in-four chance that growth will be less than two per cent in 2015. This suggests that one cannot presume annualised growth will pick up to historically ‘normal’ levels of growth of around 2.5%.”

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