On Thursday 19th April 2018, in bright sunshine, the clients and guests of Richardsons and NatWest Bank gathered at The Oxfordshire Golf Club, to hear the views of RBS Senior Economist, Stephen Blackman, on this vital and engaging topic. It seemed that the sunshine was not limited to the meteorological variety. Before the talk commenced, the attendees were polled on a show of hands for their attitude to the economic outlook, and the clear majority view was “optimistic”!
It turned out that, broadly speaking, Stephen’s view coincided with this optimistic outlook. In the short term, for example, growth prospects were positive, and growth for Q2 of 2018 was predicted to be “remarkable”!
Stephen spent some time exploring the widely-held consensus that there is a need to rebalance the economy away from consumer spending and towards business investment. Figures and diagrams were shown to the audience which made it clear that this trend is most definitely happening, and, recently, the former has roughly halved, whilst the latter has doubled!
One other potential cause for optimism was the amount of job creation in recent years, including some 2.6 million more people in work in the last nine years. Another positive is the fact that the rate of increase is skewed in favour of highly skilled work (20%) compared with the overall average of 9%.
Another economic trend which Stephen explored was the reduction in the pressure on businesses to try to grow as large as possible. A significant factor in this change is improvement in technology, which allows SMEs and micro-enterprises to compete more effectively with their larger cousins. Now the negative aspects of larger businesses that can lead to a slower response to change are starting to outweigh the advantages more frequently, producing a new and vibrant industrial landscape.
So, as if the astounding improvement in the weather was not enough to lift the audience’s spirits, an upbeat presentation, conveyed with a most engaging style of delivery, left the teams from Richardsons and NatWest, and their guests, feeling very positive. Over a most enjoyable lunch provided by The Oxfordshire’s excellent catering staff, the buzz of conversation and networking reflected this buoyant mood.
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