Special topics in The Monday Briefing

What voters think

Monday Briefing population circle
The polarisation of politics in the Western world has created new challenges to existing political norms. Declining support for established political parties has been paralleled by a growth of alternative, more extreme, parties and politicians. This week we take a look at what voters in the US, UK and Europe are telling pollsters on the big issues.

Mr Trump won a remarkable victory, but he entered office with an approval rating of 45%, a record low for an incoming US President. His rating now stands at 40% compared with an average of 61% for previous Presidents at this stage in their administration.

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Posted on 27/02/2017

Some good news

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Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is the broadest and most ubiquitous measure of economic performance. But as a gauge of human welfare it is wanting. Many factors which contribute to welfare fall entirely or partially outside GDP.

Worse still, many things which contribute to unhappiness - such as crime, pollution or poor health - can raise GDP, at least in the short term.

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Posted on 08/08/2016

What to read on holiday this summer

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The summer break provides a welcome escape from Brexit and an opportunity to spend some time catching up on reading. Our summer reading list provides six readable, thought-provoking articles to ponder on the beach or by the pool. All are available free and online.

You can save these articles on your iPad's reading list by opening the links on Safari and tapping on the share arrow next to the address bar. To print these articles please use the print icons, where available, on the webpages to ensure the whole article comes out.

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Posted on 25/07/2016

Brexit effects

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It is just over two weeks since the EU referendum and some of the consequences are becoming clearer.

The two remaining candidates for the leadership of the Conservative Party agree that the UK will leave the EU. The difference at this stage is one of timing. Frontrunner Theresa May sees no need to start the formal process of leaving immediately by triggering Article 50. Andrea Leadsom says she would invoke Article 50 immediately if she became Prime Minister.

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Posted on 11/07/2016

Brexiting is easy, getting the right deal's the hard part

Monday Briefing Brexit
The decision facing UK voters in the polling booths on 23rd June was deceptively simple – to remain in or to leave the EU.

Now comes the hard part. It falls to politicians to interpret the vote and turn it into some sort of reality.

That reality could yet leave the UK as a member of the EU. Yesterday former Prime Minister Tony Blair said that the UK "should keep our options open" on leaving the EU and suggested that as the implications of Brexit emerge the "will of the people" may shift.

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Posted on 04/07/2016

EU referendum - some thoughts

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Pretty much everyone agrees that the UK's referendum has put us into a world of uncertainty and elevated risk. For once the use of the term "Earthquake" in the headlines was not hyperbole.

Saying that things are "uncertain" is obvious but not very helpful.  Quite naturally theories, speculation and forecasts multiply.

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Posted on 27/06/2016

EU referendum - everything you need to know (except the result)

Monday Briefing EU

Voting in this Thursday's UK referendum on membership of the EU takes place between 7am and 10pm. Unlike last year's General Election there will be no official exit polls, partly because of the difficulty of extrapolating from a sample to a wider population in a referendum. Nonetheless, the Financial Times reports that some hedge funds have commissioned their own exit polls in order to trade on early indications of the result. The movement in the value of sterling during the count of votes from 10pm on Thursday evening will provide one signal of market sentiment about the outcome.

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Posted on 20/06/2016

Polls vs Punters

Monday Briefing Punters
Last week's opinion polls and bookmakers' odds show a much diminished likelihood of a UK exit from the European Union.

The average of the last six opinion polls show that, excluding Don't Knows, Remain is on 55% and Leave on 45%. That is the biggest lead for Remain in three months. The bookmakers' odds have moved even further. At the end of last week they were pricing in just a 22% chance of Brexit, the lowest reading in a year.

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Posted on 23/05/2016

Latest news vs the long view

Monday Briefing News
Forecasting is, as we observed in last week's briefing, a perilous business. To stand a chance of being right about the future you need to understand where you are now.

So it makes sense to pay attention to what the latest data and news are saying. Certainly economists and journalists pore over every new piece of data looking for signs of where the economy is heading. 

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Posted on 09/05/2016

How to be a better forecaster

Monday Briefing Forecast
It is not hard to think of recent events that have taken experts by surprise. From Donald Trump's success in the Republican presidential primaries to Jeremy Corbyn's election as leader of Britain's Labour Party the last year offers plenty of examples of insiders getting it wrong.  Pollsters, regulators, intelligence experts and, of course, economists, have suffered reputational setbacks in recent years as the future failed to conform to their theories and expectations.

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Posted on 03/05/2016