The IFS Deaton Review was launched to understand the causes of economic and social inequalities, and their effects on societies and on our political discourse. Such an analysis is particularly important for the economics and politics of trade policy: trade and globalisation can have important economic benefits, but these benefits are often widely, and thinly, spread across many consumers, while the costs of factory closures and changing employment structures can fall disproportionately on specific population groups.
The phase of synchronised growth the world enjoyed in 2017 and early 2018 has come to an end. Following two years when the global economy finally expanded faster than its long-run average of 3.0%, growth looks set to slow to 2.8% in 2019. This is a significant disappointment compared with forecasts from this time last year, which predicted global growth of 3.2% in 2019.
The overall outlook for economic growth, and its constituent parts, underpins any fiscal event, with implications for the public finances, public spending, taxation and living standards. Growth in the size of the UK economy – known as gross domestic product or GDP – has averaged 1.3% (on an annualised basis) over the last four quarters. That is somewhat below its potential rate of 1.4% (as estimated by the Bank of England) and the 1.5% growth rate for 2019 that we forecast in last year’s Green Budget, and well below the average of 2.0% per year between 2010 and 2015.
The global outlook and recent trends in the UK economy point to significant headwinds for growth going forwards. Arguably the most important determinant of the UK’s economic trajectory will be the continuing process of leaving the European Union. Brexit no longer ‘just’ determines future relations with the UK’s largest trading partner and the transition towards them. It has become intertwined with the political outlook and thus broader economic policies, including monetary policy.
Since the 2016 vote to leave the European Union, Brexit has become the policy area that dominates debate in the UK. It defined Theresa May’s government and will undoubtedly consume much of the government’s time and energy over the next few years, regardless of how the Brexit agenda evolves or who is in power.
Do tax systems distort firm-to-firm trade? Using data from both firms that do and don’t pay VAT in West Bengal in India, this paper shows that they can have significant effects, contributing to highly segmented supply chain networks.
In this chapter, we provide an overview of the UK’s recent economic performance and compare it with our and other forecasters’ projections in 2016. We then present our current forecasts, based on our smooth-Brexit base case.