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Deloitte’s latest survey of UK Chief Financial Officers, released overnight, shines light on the plans of Britain’s largest corporates. The full report is available at:
The labour shortages and supply disruptions British businesses are experiencing are likely to persist for a year, with no meaningful easing until late 2022 or 2023, according to CFOs of the UK’s largest companies. CFOs are particularly concerned about labour supply, with three-quarters reporting that their businesses have experienced some, significant or severe recruitment difficulties in the three months preceding the survey. They expect only limited improvement in the situation in a year’s time.
CFOs rate labour shortages, the pandemic and inflation as the top risks facing their businesses. Amid growing wage and price pressures, CFO expectations for a rise in operating costs have hit a record high, with a majority of respondents also expecting a margin squeeze over the next 12 months. CFOs expect inflation to run higher for longer, with a narrow majority expecting it to exceed 2.5% in two years’ time, well above the Bank of England’s 2.0% target rate.
The return of risk appetite to the boardroom, boosted by vaccine rollouts and strong growth over the summer, has led to a surge in global mergers and acquisitions activity. Around $4tn of deals have been announced since the start of the year, putting 2021 on track to break the previous record set shortly before the financial crisis (strong though these numbers are, the volume of activity, if adjusted for growth in equity values, is below the previous peak).
Join me tomorrow, Tuesday, 5 October, at 08:30 BST when I will be in conversation with George Magnus, veteran City economist and China watcher, on the topic of “The inevitable rise of China - and why it may not happen”. We'll be discussing whether China is destined to eclipse the US as the world's economic and geopolitical superpower – and what obstacles it needs to overcome to get there. George, formerly chief economist at UBS and a research fellow at the China Centre, University of Oxford, is author of “Red Flags: Why Xi’s China is in Jeopardy”. To join please register at: https://bit.ly/2Y5tDs1
The economic dislocations caused by the pandemic show no sign of abating. After a summer of eye-watering used car prices, milkshake and chicken shortages, now come soaring gas and electricity costs.
In the wake of a blisteringly fast economic recovery have come bottlenecks, supply shortages and inflation. Over the summer the US Federal Reserve’s favoured measure of inflation hit the highest levels in almost 30 years. Unexpected though it is, today’s inflation surge is widely seen as temporary.
Please join me and Deloitte’s CEO, Richard Houston, for our annual ‘Back to school’ webinar on the global economic outlook on Tuesday, 14 September, 13:00–14:00 BST. To register please visit: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1488656&tp_key=c8a8828cba
The dislocation between supply and demand created by the pandemic is starting to weigh on the recovery. Growth is being held back by supply problems, labour shortages and rising prices. Along with the effects of the Delta variant, such supply issues led to a sharp drop in China’s Caixin index of service activity in August, leaving the sector contracting for the first time since COVID-19 hit early last year. In the US Friday’s payroll data, one of the most important economic releases of the month, came in far below market expectations. Respondents to the UK manufacturing PMI index blamed shortages of materials, shipping capacity and staff for decelerating output growth in August.
The V-shaped recovery from the pandemic has brought with it supply shortages and rising prices. From semiconductors to McDonalds milkshakes, stories of shortages abound.
There may still be a few readers of the Monday Briefing who were early adopters, back in 2008. If so they may recall my enthusiasm for antique furniture as, “a functional, proven asset at a low price”. Prices may have looked low then, but in the ensuing 13 years they have, by and large, fallen still further. In a world where the value of equities, bonds, commodities and houses have soared the value of antique furniture has slumped. This week’s briefing looks at what’s behind this decline.
The pandemic triggered a vast experiment in remote working. Just as the industrial revolution moved workers from the countryside to urban centres, and the automobile era moved residential life to the suburbs, the pandemic has the capacity to remake the nature of work, and where it is done.