Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Growth Revised Up Again

Hot on the heels of the Chancellors debate on Channel 4 last night, today the Office for National Statistics (ONS), which calculates GDP for the UK, reported that its number for 2009Q4 growth has been revised up again, now to 0.4% growth.

This even newer number is the result of the ONS adding up the rest of outputs for companies in the economy, and a strong performance by manufacturing has driven this upward revision. Perhaps the weak exchange rate has helped after all.

The Guardian article linked up ends with a quote from someone at the British Chamber of Commerce, a body representing companies in the UK. He supports the Labour take on spending rather than the Tory angle: We need to avoid letting the economy slip back into recession, and as such cutting back spending sooner, as advanced by the Tories, is not wise given that.

Monday, March 29, 2010

More bad economics in popular movements

Many of you probably like the idea of the Robin Hood Tax, despite its multiple problems (not least: Would everyone just keep on behaving as they had done if the tax was introduced? No). Then there was the NUS president last week backing rent controls, basically arguing for lower standards in student accommodation for you all.

Here's another example of bad economics getting its voice heard and attempting to influence people: Some bizarre idea to boycott BP and ESSO (see here for the lowdown on it). I got the email in a forward.

I've already mentioned this on here. It's not sexy, it's not evil, it's simply the exchange rate, something we've covered in lectures.

The pound has lost over 25% of its value since 2008, and that's why petrol costs loads more despite the price of oil being lower. Recall: Worse exchange rate means imports (oil) more expensive, exports cheaper for the UK.

As students of econ101, you now have a much greater economics education than most of the population, the kind of people that come up with illogical ideas like boycott some oil companies because the pound has lost 25% of its value. Educate these people!

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Confidence affects things

On the BBC today, the Institute of Directors have announced that they are unimpressed with the Chancellor.

45% of those directors of companies interviewed thought Darling is doing a bad job, whereas only 16% thought he was doing a positive job.

We've talked in previous weeks about how confidence is all important in generating economic activity. The most recent channel we thought of was the interest rate channel, whereby interest rates stimulate investment. This only happens though if firms are confident. There are questions about whether indeed businesses are confident enough to invest, even if the government is spending money to stimulate the economy...

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Economics students needed to educate NUS

This is from a couple of days ago: Rents are soaring for student accommodation. What is the NUS's response to this? There should be rent caps.

Sound like a good plan? I'm sure it does, keeping rents low.

But you've studied economics this year, the market for accommodation is like any other market: There's a demand, and there's a supply.

I suspect the NUS has missed the fact that there are more students than ever at university now. So the demand for housing has gone up, and hence it's not surprising prices (rents) are up too.

What kind of a solution would capping rent be? If rent was capped at some below market equilibrium price, then there would be an excess demand for accommodation, as landlords would be unwilling to provide accommodation at the lower prices, and would instead offer their housing to others - immigrants, families, etc.

Rent caps have been tried, and have failed, around the world over the years (New York is an often touted example). All they do is cap the quality of accommodation. If a landlord can't raise his rent, he has no incentive to improve the accommodation, and the shabby state of student accommodation will only get worse.

It's a hard truth, but it's the truth sadly. Capping rents are not the solution, so if you're in the NUS and study economics, do try and educate your Union on the economics you've learnt this year.

What would the Tories do?

 You've had macroeconomics, and in particular monetary and fiscal policy and their effects on the wider economy from a lecturer who doesn't find the Conservatives very appealing a prospect.  Perhaps you want the other end of the spectrum?

If so, tomorrow's the day.  George Osborne is on campus tomorrow at the Business School presenting his alternative.  Coffee is at 9:30am, speech from 10.

If you want to attend, email e.g.leftwich@bham.ac.uk to register your interest.

Sadly, I'll be in Jersey while George blows hot air....

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Budget Day

Today, Wednesday, is budget day.  The Chancellor will announce spending plans for the year ahead.

Don't expect big pre-election hand outs - we've talked in lectures about electioneering in budgets.  But this year will probably be different because of the extreme pressures facing the Chancellor.  More spending or tax cuts would be irresponsible right now as folk up and down the country are tightening their own budgets, and would actually be politically counter-productive.

Hence, the electioneering (tailoring economic decisions towards re-election) will be the opposite of what would normally happen, I suspect today.  The best decision for the election will be for the Chancellor to show restraint.  But I'll probably be proved wrong...

After the Event: Class Attendance

You're all aware I don't quite understand what motivates you to come to lectures and talk.  I suspect those of you that do this haven't come even close to this blog, but if you have, I'm all ears about why it makes sense to turn up to a lecture just to talk.  There are cafes and pubs on campus.

But even more important is class attendance.  This is a compulsory part of your degree.  Well done to those with perfect attendance records (I now have them from the class tutors), and for those who didn't attend because of other difficulties that were raised with your tutor, again well done.

But the rest of you, be warned.  I mentioned this at the start of term.  If you want a reference from your personal tutor, he or she can make use of your attendance records when writing that reference.  Hence even if there is no direct consequence for your violation of a compulsory part of your degree, there is an indirect consequence.

If I was employing someone, and the reference came in telling me the person didn't comply with the compulsory parts of their degree programme, I simply would not employ them, and I doubt I'm on my own in saying that.

Hence, again I'll repeat the warning you had back at the start of term: Fail to comply with compulsory parts of your degree and face the consequences.

Your picking and choosing when you attend (attending a different session is equally much a violation and won't look good on your reference) is unfair on everyone apart from yourself.  The class teacher who does not know who will turn up, and may have to teach to 2 or 20 students (very different proposition), and your fellow students who signed up for that particular class, who get their experience diluted when you barge rudely into their class, uninvited.

At university we expect mature behaviour on the part of you, because you're not school kids any more.  The kind of behaviour displayed by class attendance and talking in lectures is anything but what would be expected from mature, respectful people.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Inflation 3%

See: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/mar/23/inflation-falls-to-three-percent?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

The Budget: Tomorrow!

In the last few weeks we've considered the macroeconomic tools at the disposal of governments to try and influence the economy in a desirable direction.  The main tools are fiscal policy (the use of government spending and taxation) and monetary policy.

The UK government has now fobbed off monetary policy to the Bank of England (hence if inflation is announced to be high later today, it'll be the Bank's problem not Labour's), but fiscal policy remains its preserve, and tomorrow (Wednesday) the government will announce its budget for the forthcoming year.  That is, it will announce what government spending and taxation will be: It is announcing fiscal policy for the coming year.

We've seen that fiscal policy can often be ineffective, and the results of it hard to spot for a long time - these time lags between announcing a policy and that policy working its way through the system.  Hence, so close the the election, it's hard to imagine that any policy will have its effect in time to influence voters.

But that won't stop some electioneering going on, and the government will attempt to engineer some goodwill amongst voters with its intentions - things like pushing bankers more - forcing them to allow everyone to open a bank account, for example.

However, the government has also got to convey the impression it is getting on top of its deficit issue.  As mentioned in previous weeks, this is a contentious issue: Whether to cut now or cut later - because we've seen that government spending is an injection and taxation a withdrawal from the circular flow. 

Cutting spending and raising taxes will thus negatively affect the circular flow of income.  In order for the effect of this to be less noticed, then clearly other injections need to be significantly rising, and other withdrawals falling.  So if the economy is picking up from the recession and growing, then investment is likely to be increasing, and hence a gradual withdrawal of the government spending injections then might be less noticeable.

Regardless though, if the government is to retain the confidence of the people lending to it, it has to show it has a credible and thought-through plan for reducing the deficit substantially in the years to come - even if it doesn't start now.  If it doesn't, there will be negative consequences both for monetary and fiscal policy. 

Fiscal because more spending will be needed to pay interest on deficits and debt, and monetary policy because the increased money supply will lead to inflationary pressures requiring action via interest rates.

Inflation announced today

Here's another article I discovered via the various news feeds that the econ101b Twitter account follows: Uncertainty about today's inflation figures, from the Guardian.

Reading this should remind you of plenty we've looked at this term in econ101b.  First, why are inflation figures important?  Not least because low and stable inflation is one of the government's macroeconomic objectives, in order to provide an environment that facilitates investment and economic growth.  We've talked about the ways in which the government tries to achieve this: Monetary and fiscal policy, and we've also talked about the difficulty that the government has had in keeping inflation low historically.

Also, the government since 1997 has given this task to the Bank of England, which has been given independence to set interest rates to achieve an inflation target - current 2%, with a 1% band either side of this.  If the Bank misses the target then it's obliged to write to the Chancellor explaining why the target has been missed, and when inflation will fall back in line.

Inflation is forecast to be announced (today) to have been anything between 2.8% and 3.6% for the last month, and of course this matters: Less than 3% and a letter is avoided.

What's caused this wide range of forecasts?  The Guardian suggests that normally things are a bit more clear than this.  Various factors, many of which we've touched upon:
  • What will the effect be of the VAT return?  Will firms pass it on in prices?  Or try to woo customers?
  • How much will rising petrol costs affect inflation?  Recall this relates back to the exchange rate depreciation.  Most of our oil is imported, hence it costs more with the weaker pound.
  • Energy bill cuts via British Gas - many people use British Gas hence this might have a negative effect on inflation.
Either way, we'll have to wait and see...

Monday, March 22, 2010

Profile of Joe Stiglitz

Economic history may be boring, but it's often fascinating to read about great economists and how they got to where they did.  Not least, if you do have some ideas about studying economics further, you can get a nice feel for it by reading profiles of other economists.  The IMF website has this profile on Joe Stiglitz which is very interesting.

Stiglitz has written an awful lot of great stuff, hence why he's got a Nobel Prize in economics.  You may be aware of some of his books, notably Globalisation and its Discontents. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Tim Harford, Dear Economist and Twitter

Tim Harford is perhaps better known as the Undercover Economist, and/or the author of the Dear Economist colum in the FT each weekend.  This week's Dear Economist may hit home with many of you, a year after getting into the university of your choice (hopefully!).  It's a great column for applying the arcane and often abstract concepts of economics humorously to everyday situations.

I've not regularly read it for quite a long time, but subscribing to Tim Harford's twitter feed over at the econ101b Twitter page reminded me of it.  If you're actually reading this blog, you're probably a keen student, or maybe a student thinking about whether to be keen.

You've probably read Freakonomics already (or at least claimed to do it to get into university), so you may want to head to the Freakonomics blog, or maybe have a look at Tyler Cowen's blog also if you're interested in timely and interesting (even fun - shock horror) reflections on economics in the real world.

For a more macroeconomics take on things, try out Greg Mankiw's blog which, like this one, is a blog originating from a first-year undergrad economics course.  The difference, of course, is that Mankiw is a Harvard prof...

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Credit ratings

I noticed this from following Tim Harford's tweets on the econ101b Twitter feed - it's about how the UK is rated internationally.  Apparently the BBC and Reuters got the opposite ends of the stick: See Ben Goldacre's links.

Regardless, this credit rating reflects the percieved ability of a firm or country to pay back its debt.  The triple-A rating, AAA, is the best possible rating: Any money you lend to this government or firm, you will see back in your account once the loan matures. 

People (firms, agents) thinking about lending to a firm or government will take note of these ratings when deciding whether to lend, and at what rate of interest.  A better rating means, all other things being equal, that the interest rate the lender charges will be lower.

Hence if the US or UK lost that AAA rating, it would likely face higher rates of interest on future borrowing.  That would give a very sharp incentive to cut the deficit...

Now the European Comission has weighed in...

After the 20 and 60 economists, now comes the European Commission: Commenting on when the deficit should be cut.

Recall: The deficit is the shortfall each year in government finances (the difference between government income - from taxes - and government spending).  It's currently at 12.2% of GDP, so over 10% of what the UK earns, in effect.  It's like, if you earn £20000, borrowing over £2000 a year.

Why should it be cut?  It should be cut if the people lending to the government stop believing the government will pay them back.  If this happens, they raise their interest rate.  The rate Greece can currently borrow at is much higher than what the UK can borrow at, for example.

If the rate the UK can borrow at goes up, then the government's spending each year (G) increases, and hence more taxes will be needed to fund it.  This isn't good news.  That's why people argue the deficit needs to be cut very quickly.

On the other hand, we talked yesterday in the lecture about the perils of cutting government spending: It's reducing an injection into the circular flow, and so unless another injection replaces it, then national income must fall.  So it doesn't seem sensible to cut the deficit right away, when the recovery is already fragile, others argue.

As you may be aware, the two major political parties have split on this issue, with the Tories supporting immediate cuts (think 1979/80 from yesterday), and Labour arguing for later cuts once the recovery is under way. 

So today's pitch from the European Commission sees the Tories in a slightly odd position: Agreeing with Europe on something...

Example of the effect of the exchange rate on imports...

We've said in previous lectures that one correcting impact of the exchange rate is on balance of payments imbalances.  For example, if a country has a huge balance of payments deficit and hence is importing much more than it's exporting, then we'd expect the currency for that economy to depreciate (fall in value, making it more expensive for residents in that economy to get foreign currency).

Here's an example of that happening in the UK: Petrol prices.  Scroll past the fluff and bluster from some MP in the Torygraph, an analyst points out that the pound has weakened against the dollar significantly in the last couple of years (the pound has lost 25% of its value).  This means that as oil is priced in dollars, that even though the current price of oil is $80, we have to spend more pounds to get that barrel of oil compared to when the price was about $140 back in 2008.  Back then we could get $2 for a pound, now it's more like $1.40.  So right now oil's at about £57, but back then it was about £70.  Still quite a few quid difference, but not as dramatic as quoting the price in US dollars.

The point is: The pound has depreciated reflecting weakness in the UK economy, not least the huge balance of payments deficit.  The effect of this depreciation in theory is that imports become more expensive, and our exports become less expensive, and hence we'd expect to see the balance of payment deficit closing.  Here's an example with petrol, of that exchange rate effect.

Will we consume less petrol?  Depends on how elastic our demand is...

Monday, March 15, 2010

What's in Inflation?

The BBC reports on the latest changes to the basket of goods upon which inflation numbers are calculated.  Lipstick is out and lip gloss is in, apparently.  In order to get an idea of the cost of living some kind of representative basket of goods should be formed: A set of goods that the "average person" consumes.  Of course, this must update, and the BBC comments on how that has been updated.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Leftie stuff

The Guardian is a great source of left thinking.  Simon Jenkins, it seems from today's paper, epitomises that.  Apparently the bankers didn't really need the bail outs, they just convinced Alistair Darling they did, and he willingly paid up.  Jenkins is also scathing about how much taxpayers' money has done into rescuing these banks, and is incandescent about the fact that bankers have played such a role in macroeconomic fluctuations.

We've gone through enough macroeconomics now to hopefully be able to pick apart this rather sensationalist speak, which I'd expect to see more in the Mirror or something like that.

Firstly, the banks did indeed need the money, that much is clear.  The fact that Barclays and HSBC have made capital out of not taking any taxpayer money (directly) is a clear sign that, had banks been able to avoid the stigma of taking bail outs, they would have done.  It's not quite as simple as Jenkins tried to make out.

Jenkins appears to be implying that the trillion all came from the taxpayer.  Of course it didn't.  A good chunk was quantitative easing, simply money printed by the Bank of England, and then a load of the rest is financed by the people that bought government bills and bonds in the past year or two (funding the government deficit, or PSNCR).  Of course, at some point in the future, a good chunk of that will have to be paid back by the taxpayer.  But also, the government will sell off Northern Rock at a profit, and probably also its stakes in the other banks.

And of course, on those part-privatised banks, Jenkins mouths off about the bonuses paid.  However, the government needs to ensure these banks remain competitive, attracting the best staff, in order that when they are sold off, the government makes a profit and hence as taxpayers we pay less debt back.

Finally, there is this idea that somehow the only reason the recession exists is bankers.  We haven't really studied the business cycle so much yet, but next year (in econ203a) you'll find out that economies will always display cyclical fluctuations.  Via some miracle, the UK escaped a recession for the best part of 20 years.  But it was merely putting it off, that's all.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

News is always happening!

We've discussed in lectures how economic news affects the confidence of firms and consumers and hence can have an impact on the economy as people spend/invest more or less as a result, shifting demand functions.

Today saw some more news released about the UK economy in addition to the earlier news about retail sales (see last post below): The trade gap has widened.  As the report suggests, this was unexpected, and it may be the fragile confidence some firms have has been further eroded by this, reducing their individual demand for investment and reducing investment overall.

The trade balance (we'll come to this next week) is the difference between imports and exports, and the trade gap usually refers in the UK (since we're always importing more than we export) to the excess of imports over exports.  Hence it got worse, to £8bn from £7bn.

Why was this unexpected?  Well, the pound has fallen dramatically against the currencies of the countries we trade most with - as the article says, the trade-weighted exchange rate index has fallen over 20%.

This should mean our exports are cheaper, and imports more expensive, hence we should expect a movement away from imports to domestic goods, and a move from overseas consumers and firms towards UK goods.

But it's likely these things do take their time to work through - supply chains are set by firms and may time time to change.

Also, it was noted recently that Eurozone growth has tailed off, with Germany growing 0% last quarter.  That means that the people buying most of our goods aren't doing so well, and perhaps are buying even less goods from us than they might.

More Updates

Retail sales are a good predictor of confidence, and the numbers for February were released today (see link).  Sales were up 2.2% on Feb 2009, which is good news on face value, but it always pays to think carefully about what numbers mean (another hint: Take econometrics seriously!).  Feb 2009 was apparently a terrible month for retail sales, and so the number we're comparing today's sales to is an exceptionally low number - meaning that any idea of real growth might be over-stated by comparing to this figure.

Nonetheless, after a bad month in January, this is good news and augers well for continued economic growth this quarter.

The downside would be that ideally any return to growth would be driven by exports and not higher levels of consumption - which runs the risk of leaving us once again saddled with higher levels of consumer debt.  We shall see...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Fiscal Readings

Economist on US fiscal situation (lack of stabilisers):

We just talked about these fiscal stabilisers, which are taxes and benefits schemes that ensure that the economy's movements are stabilised around some point (a bit like stabilisers on a bike).  The US seems to lack them, which means that overall its level of economic growth should be more volatile than the UK or Europe.

CBI warning to government about fiscal deficit/national debt (Monday 8 March):

Mentioned this in today's lecture.  The CBI, which represents businesses, thinks the government needs to get on with cutting the deficit, contrary to the ideas of the 60 economists from a couple of weeks ago.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Careful about sloppy thinking

Monday's lecture is on fiscal policy.  There's much to say about fiscal policy at the moment, given the UK government has run up a 12.6% of GDP fiscal deficit.  One thing though to say is this: Don't confuse deficits with debts.

If you or I run up a huge deficit at one point in time, whether or not the person we borrow from should be alarmed isn't based just on the current deficit, but also on our track record.  That determines how much we should be trusted.

So this article panics because the current UK deficit is higher than Greece's!  But Greece has been running reckless deficits for years and hence is in a terrible situation where nobody wants to buy its debt any more.  The UK, as we'll note on Monday, has been much healthier over the years, and hence the fact our deficit (as a proportion of our national income) is higher is not something to get overly scared about.

It's certainly something to be aware of though...

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Interest Rates

As expected, interest rates kept on hold at 0.5%.

Monetary Policy Announcement

Next week, we'll start learning about monetary and fiscal policy, the two tools of macroeconomics policy.  Now we've got the ISLM model in hand, we can use that to discuss these types of policy.

As an early heads up, today the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee meets to decide on interest rates.  In 1997 the UK government gave the Bank of England independence, and gave it the task of setting interest rates to achieve the government's stated target for inflation - back then that was 2.5%, but then after the UK adopted the harmonised measure of inflation the target became 2%.

The full expectation is that rates will stay at zero - or 0.5, the lowest that they can practically go.  The Bank of England's governor, Mervyn King, has hinted at starting up quantitative easing again - this is a policy that only needs to be used when interest rates have hit their rock bottom level - where we saw the interest rate mechanism no longer works for transmitting changes in the money supply into economic growth.

What we'll find out next week in lectures is that the bank doesn't exactly "set" the interest rate, but once it's agreed what the interest rate should be (so, 0.5% from today), then the Bank will engage in buying and selling financial assets (usually government bonds) to manipulate the money supply to achieve that rate of interest.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

The Macroeconomic Significance of Football

That football is of vital significance for macroeconomic events has been confirmed by the South Africans, who expect this summer's World Cup (starting in 100 days) to add 0.5 percentage points to economic growth in the country.  I.e. of the growth predicted of 2.3%, 1.8% of that number is due to normal economic matters, while the remaining 0.5% component is related to the World Cup.

Monday, March 1, 2010

More Exchange Rate Effects

I've tried desperately to find the bit of comment on Radio 4's PM programme this evening as I was driving home by Nils Blythe - if you can find it, let me know.  He basically talked about the exchange rate, and the current events affecting the exchange rate, very much along the lines of what we learnt about exchange rates last week.

We've already talked about how the pound has fallen on concerns about the economy's health.  Analysts have also suggested, Nils Blythe mentioned on Radio 4, that the pound has fallen because the Prudential has taken over AIG's Asian arm, AIA.

The Pru has agreed to pay a whopping £35bn for AIA, and rightly so, Blythe points out, this has affected the exchange rate.  That's because people expect 35 billion pounds to be supplied on to the foreign exchange rate very soon as Prudential coughs up for AIA.  That's a massive increase in the supply of pounds, and we now know that will lead to a fall in the exchange rate (assuming demand stays the same).

Now those people who speculate and look for opportunities to make money on foreign exchange will have noticed this, expected a fall, and so changed their holdings of pounds to suit.  If you expect the pound to fall, you sell your pounds, so that when the pound has fallen, you can buy more pounds back for the same amount you previously had - you make a gain.  So because of this speculative motive for holding money, we've seen that already the exchange rate has fallen because people expect the exchange rate to fall.

Expectations and their Effect on the Exchange Rate

The pound has hit another low - this time a 10-month low - against the dollar.  The BBC news article suggests that this low is caused by raised expectations of a hung parliament - i.e. no party gaining a majority after the upcoming election.

A poll published today has cut the Tory lead to just two points, the lowest it's been for two years.  Polls are well known for their lack of accuracy, and over the last two years I've been hoping the polls are wildly inaccurate, hoping for anything but a Tory win.  Betfair is a betting market, and allows bets to be placed (and laid) on all kinds of events, including the forthcoming general election.  Over there, the Tories are still well ahead, and even the probability of no overall majority isn't so high, at only 30%.  Who is right?

Either way, the point is that expectations in the markets have affected the exchange rate.  Earlier on the lecture we talked about how expectations might cause unstability in markets: For example, here demand for pounds and supply of pounds is affected by something other than the price of the pound (the exchange rate): By the expectation of a hung parliament, and all that entails.

A hung parliament means that neither party has a majority, and hence policy-making becomes very difficult, since neither party really agrees on things, in particular the way the deficit should be addressed.  Most likely is delayed legislation, and a lack of clarity, which is the last thing that is needed when those lending to the UK government are seeking exactly that: Clarity on when the deficit will be tackled.

Tough Times

The BBC has conducted a poll of local councils to ask about potential job losses, and come up with a number of 25,000.  One analyst from the LSE on Radio 4 this morning expressed surprise at how small the number was - a number that is already 10% of all employees for local councils.

Naturally, the unions have started talking up strikes, and trot out the usual line that it's unfair that honest council workers must face the axe for the excesses of investment bankers the world over.

Last week we talked about the important of the financial sector for the functioning of the economy, and we noted that these institutions, called intermediaries since their function is to match monies people want to save to monies people want to borrow, are vital.  That, of course, doesn't excuse the kinds of excesses that have happened in recent years.

This week we'll talk more about the link between the financial markets and the goods markets, and why we got from a problem in the financial markets to the deepest recession in 60 years.

Final point: Unions always seek somebody to blame, and it's human nature to always try and blame someone else.  However, consumer indebtedness mushroomed in the last decade, as well as banking excesses.  We all, as a population, loved the idea of being able to spend more, and lapped it all up.  So as a population we all have some stake in the mess things have got into.  It's never quite as black and white as some people would like it to be to suit their arguments...

Confidence Up

We've said in lecture about how confidence is important: If firms are confident they invest, and they hire workers.  So news today that confidence is up in industry is good news for the economy, after last week's upward revision in economic growth.

If firms are investing, and starting to hire new workers, then the growth prospects for the economy are good, and this reduces the probability of a double-dip recession - the idea that the UK economy might fall back into recession after this quarter of growth.

Jury still out, of course, we'll have to wait until late next month to know for sure how the economy fared in 2010Q1.