A couple of interesting YouGov findings in yesterday’s Sun and this morning’s Times. Both had questions about perceptions of the state of the economy, and both showed a stark decline since earlier in the year. Regular readers will remember that there had been a pattern of the public still being pessimistic about their personal finances, but becoming more optimistic about the state of the economy as a whole. That appears to have changed.

In the YouGov Sun poll poll yesterday 25% of people expected the economy to get better in the year ahead, down from 39% in March. 32% expected it to get worse, up from 23% (tabs here.)

A similar poll for the Times RedBox done a day later found the proportion of people thinking the economy was either on the way to recovery or showing signs of recovery was down to 40% from 50% in August, and the percentage of people thinking the economy was getting worse was up from 13% to 22% (tabs here.)

Both questions were run prior to the government’s Autumn Statement, and while I doubt many people actually watch it the media coverage of the economy over the last few days may yet make a difference – either positive or negative. Beyond that, as with most political events, I wouldn’t expect the Autumn Statement to make much difference.


432 Responses to “Falling economic optimism”

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  1. @RMJ1

    “Assuming the growth forecast is more or less correct then GDP will rise by 15% in real terms over the 5 years and that will take care of it. ”

    That’s quite an assumption.

  2. The Other Howard
    “Rose-ringed Parakeets on the nut feeders this morning”

    You won’t see as many if James Marchington has his way.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/wildlife/11268335/Hunter-criticised-for-video-guide-showing-how-to-kill-parakeets-in-back-garden.html

  3. RMJ1

    Nice post, adds to my cheer this morning.

    Roger

    Technically as an introduced species (collection escape) it is an illegal immigrant. Since he originates from Asia not the EU the government could do something about it. meanwhile I just enjoyed them as I did when i saw them in the foothills of the Himalayas and West Africa.

  4. Spearmint

    Well I laughed. Quite a lot. And after:

    Absolutely everyone is doomed. The Tories are stuck, Labour are falling apart, the Lib Dems have been falling apart since 2010, Ukip and the Greens are screwed by FPTP, and Nicola Sturgeon can’t become Prime Minister because she’s trapped in a tiny nation dependent on falling oil prices.

    I see no more need for any further political analysis for the next six months. Not that that will stop them.

    The Drilldown app is quite fun though, and shows signs of having raided you and Statgeek for ideas (Anthony’s involved with the site I think) as well as the BBC’s defunct Polltracker. I like the way you can adjust the period of the moving average to fit the frequency of polls depending on pollster. And the ability to analyse by age range, gender and class will be very useful, not just for looking at the those topics, but for comparing the structural differences between the various pollsters[1].

    There’s still a lot to explore and the ability to breakdown by gender, age VI etc on various YouGov tracker issues[2]. I didn’t realise how much the rise of Immigration as a topic was driven by women not men (Health you’d expect, but less so that)

    You’re still the Queen of Churn though (admittedly this makes you sound like Marie Antoinette at the Petit Trianon). And your DK/WNV are particularly informative – showing how Labour uncertainty has risen since mid-year,even as Tory and even Lib Dem figures have gradually dropped a bit[3].

    One thing strikes me in particular from your graphs. Stephen Jay Gould was right, it’s all about punctured equilibrium. Sometimes the reasons for the jumps between the plateaus are for obvious reasons, such as the may elections, but which of the many events put up UKIP in September and then November. And it’s interesting how the Green’s rise is a gentle echo of UKIP’s.

    [1] For example compare the relatively static churn on Populus, for Con and Lab especially, with the greater movement in your YouGov figures. It illustrates the artificial stabilisation of their weighting methods.

    [2] I don’t think it a coincidence that Anthony put up this post just after the Drilldown went live.

    [3] Though mainly in the latter case due to then deciding to go Green.

  5. @FUNTYPIPPIN

    Not really. Much of the talk when these figures were released was about how low they were with this year’s 3% falling back in subsequent years. In fact there is a fair bit of upside potential which would make things easier. The OBR also make the assumption that receipts will be more or less flat over this period, a prudent but slightly pessimistic forecast.

  6. @Roger

    Yes, immigration as an issue was quite interesting to follow on that tracker, thanks for pointing it out.

    So
    – immigration is more of an issue for women than men
    – immigration has actually been quite constant as an issue
    over the whole period 2010 up until today. It is only because other issues have declined in importance that it tops the list
    – best parties on immigration are UKIP and the Tories

    BUT
    – women less likely to vote for Tories and UKIP, more likely to vote Labour or Green

    Would be fascinating to be able to drill down further into
    “what are the issues for Labour/Green women” to see if immigration still tops the pile.

    I think what it says to me is that things other than the most important issue are what actually drives voting intention for a lot of people, but we would need the further drill down to check.

  7. LEFTY,
    I am afraid you’ve lost me. 3% real terms cuts per annum? Where do you get that from? Some very strange economic assumptions flying around. The government overspend is nothing like the 18% figure that annual 3% cuts would imply. All we need is a standstill on spending, adjusted for inflation, and a reasonable growth figure which is actually below trend. Job done.

  8. ROGER MEXICO
    @”Stephen Jay Gould was right, it’s all about punctured equilibrium. ”

    Punctuated actually.

    And he may not necessarily have been right

  9. What would be quite interesting is a poll that asked all the people who have changed their voting intention since 2010 why they have changed, and why they selected the new party they plan to support.

    – who did you vote for in 2010
    – who will you vote for now
    – if different
    – why have you changed your vote?
    – I voted tactically in 2010, would now support the party I prefer,
    – I will vote tactically now
    – the party I voted for in 2010 failed to address my issues
    – if they select this option, then ask them what their issues were in 2010, and what their issues are now

    etc…I’m sure Anthony can come up with a better set of questions.

    I think that may be more useful than just issues trackers. Focus in on what actually drives voting behaviour changes, and where those have happened, what the reasons are for those changes.

  10. LEFTY

    @”The OBR reckons that the fiscal retrenchment we saw in the early stages of this Parliament cost us a cumulative 6% of GDP in lost output from 2010-12,”

    Have searched for this in their AS commentary ( Economic & Fiscal Outlook Dec 2014 ) & can’t find it.

    Indeed their revisions of the timing of the recovery & the contribution that both Investment & Consumption played in it ,seem at odds with your statement.

    Can you supply the reference please ?

  11. Colin

    I’m out at the moment. I’ll send you the ref later. It was cumulative remember. They said that there had been 1% loss of annual GDP growth in each if 2010/11/12. By 2012, the cumulative effect is 6% ish. Or about £100bn.

    As I say, I’ll send the ref later. Remind me if I don’t.

  12. @ John B,

    And being a nationalist, I have to find fault in the comment about turning ‘a ‘region’ into ‘a country’

    That was HookesLaw. I was very, very careful to say “tiny nation“- didn’t want to drive Old Nat into an aneurysm when he was trying to recover from his surgery.

    @ T’Other Howard,

    Of course, you were absolutely right about the Labour VI collapsing into the low thirties, when those of us of a more leftward inclination were rabbiting on about brackets and 35% floors. We’ll see in a few months if your predictions about the Conservatives are equally accurate, but you’re doing pretty well so far.

    @ Roger Mexico,

    One thing strikes me in particular from your graphs. Stephen Jay Gould was right, it’s all about punctured equilibrium. Sometimes the reasons for the jumps between the plateaus are for obvious reasons, such as the may elections, but which of the many events put up UKIP in September and then November?

    The Labour jumps are especially fascinating in that respect. At least on the face of it, there was no influence from Simon Danczuk’s “Ed is Carp” festival, no influence from Miliband fluffing a few lines in his conference speech, no influence from ThornberryGate. What seems to have made the difference was the overall contrast between the mood of the Labour Conference and the mood of the Conservative Conference- which was, you know, an actual real thing (to whatever extent party conferences are “real” these days) that the Labour leadership genuinely cocked up.

    It gives you some degree of faith in the good sense of the electorate, as Pressman would say.

  13. @Richard
    People, not specifically women who consider themselves Green or Labour, cannot support anything but the very mildest controls on immigration. If they do, they are hypocrites.

  14. TOH

    You might be interested in this.

    http://m.beheco.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2014/03/06/beheco.aru025.full.pdf

    I am surprised that the study seems confined to effects on feeding of native species. The commandeering of tree rot holes for breeding, , I would have thought , would have been an equally fruitful aspect of research into impact on native species

    h tt p://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/07/0708_040708_feralparrots_2.html

    I see no difference between this species & Himalyan Balsam, and
    Australian Swamp Stonecrop-both of which have been steadily destroying UK riverine & wetland habitats for years.

    I would have them culled.

  15. @Roland

    Possibly not. Lord Ashcroft has an interesting piece on conservative home this week

    http://www.conservativehome.com/platform/2014/12/lord-ashcroft-the-importance-of-being-salient.html

    In it, he looks at why people vote Labour vs Conservative.

    People vote Labour because
    – they want to help ordinary people
    – equal opportunity
    – on the side of people like me
    – shares my values

    And Labour leads on all those things.

    He has immigration down on the bottom scale of less important issues. The Tories lead on that vs Labour, but it does not drive voting intention.

    The only important issue the Tories lead on is Cameron vs Miliband.

    Which is kind of confusing when you consider the political narrative has been driven by immigration for the last few years based on the issues trackers like the one from Yougov.

    Maybe immigration is just not that important in driving voting intention (except for UKIP voters of course).

    Possibly values like that list that Labour currently lead on are more important than issues and policies.

    And that may explain why policy changes are not driving the changes we see in voting intention.

    Labour dropped after their conference, because they seemed to be abandoning their values by embracing austerity. That actually drove movement in voting intention.

  16. @RMJ1

    “If wee Georgie wants to reduce public spending to 35% of GDP over 5 years then all that is needed is for public spending to remain at its present level plus inflation. Assuming the growth forecast is more or less correct then GDP will rise by 15% in real terms over the 5 years and that will take care of it.”

    The problem with that plan (which has been their plan since 2010 imo) is that currently growth in the total size of the economy (aka GDP) is mainly coming from importing millions more people. This is either a) deflationary after the initial boost due to its effect on wages and living costs or b) the deflationary aspect is reduced through massive increases in the welfare budget through working tax credits or c) a bit of both and d) either requires more infrastructure spending to match the massively increased numbers or accepting the consequences of the ongoing collapse in public services.

    @DaoDao

    “The top news story today is that the UK government can find funds to prop up a middle eastern tyranny by establishing a military base far away from these shores.”

    Leaving aside the individual case it’s things like this that stop people believing the govt. when they say there’s no money.

    @Roger Mexico

    “Sometimes the reasons for the jumps between the plateaus are for obvious reasons, such as the may elections, but which of the many events put up UKIP in September and then November. And it’s interesting how the Green’s rise is a gentle echo of UKIP’s.”

    It’s just timing imo. People who follow politics every day notice stuff the same day but most people don’t. In an environment where only 1 in 20 follow politics the effect is filtered through that 1 in 20 who pass it on over time.

  17. @Carfrew

    “As explained, you won’t be getting much of a return on the deficit if much of it is being used to cover interest payments rather than being injected into the economy.”

    As I explained to you, yes.

  18. Colin

    Thank’s for the reference, an interesting piece of work. I agree competition for nesting sites could also be having an effect. There are numerous examples of introductions causing population reduction in native species in the plant world, even amongst the lower plants e.g. the moss Campylopus introflexus now is a dominant species in much of our heath land. However eliminating these introductions is another matter as anyone who has tried to clear Himalayan Balsam knows only too well.

  19. @Roger Mexico, Spearmint,

    “A Labour Party insider will know better than me, but is there a cut off date before the General Election after which the central Party are able to impose candidates (or at least a shortlist) on constituencies?”

    “There is, and we reached it a few weeks ago. So yes, view all abrupt retirement announcements at this point with suspicion.”

    That may be so, but CLPs are still in the process of selecting candidates (mine only did so last weekend), so it may be premature to start crying foul. I suspect the fixed term parliament has made CLPs much more relaxed about the selection process.

  20. Leftylampton

    ” the terrifying danger of the scale if cuts that is being proposed.”

    To people of my persuasion there is nothing to be terrified about.

    We sit on different sides of an economic divide and only if the cuts actually take place will we see who is correct. Assuming we have a Tory government in 2015 then in 2020 (also assuming we will both have lived that long) we will be able to discuss who was more correct. I look forward to that discussion.

  21. SPEARMINT

    Thanks for that, as you say we will see if I am right about the Tories in five months time..

  22. RICHARD
    Thanks for your full and courteous reply. I have to say that the conflicting attitudes and weirdness of argument, leaves me baffled.

    Oh for the days of ” I have a bit put by which I wish to CONSERVE.
    and, I am a working person who supports Labour.

  23. @Richard

    “He has immigration down on the bottom scale of less important issues. The Tories lead on that vs Labour, but it does not drive voting intention.”

    And yet obviously it does.

    So what can explain this strange mystery?

    Answer: There is no average voter. There are chunks of voters and their basket of salient issues varies so averaging them all together loses most of the useful information.

    For example take Lab
    – guardianista (pro-immigration)
    – recent immigrants (pro-immigration)
    – 2nd, 3rd generation (lukewarm)
    – wwc (mostly anti)
    – floating voters (mostly anti)

    The average salience of the issue among the people still voting Lab is lower than the salience among the extra numbers they need to vote for them.

  24. Sorry AW,
    I fell into that one. Should know better at my age.

  25. ROBIN
    [Snip – please don’t get drawn into replying when others try to start partisan arguments (even if it’s just to politely avoid them!) Such comments are better ignored. ON another point, please don’t think of anyone else as political comrades here… anyone writing in such as way is not following the comments policy, and if you’re thinking of your comments like that, neither are you – AW]

  26. AW
    Point taken.

  27. @Carfrew

    “As explained, you won’t be getting much of a return on the deficit if much of it is being used to cover interest payments rather than being injected into the economy.”

    Actually reading it again you’re still missing the point.

    It’s in the nature of borrowing money that the borrower pays back the original amount plus interest so the borrower always pays back more than they borrowed.

    (caveat: inflation effects)

    So government borrowing *inevitably* takes more money out of the economy in the long term than it originally puts in *unless* that borrowing generates a return greater than the total cost of the loan.

    (or it prevents a greater loss which would be the argument for a stabilizer effect)

  28. Is it not so that we should get a raft of monthly polls shortly?

    By the way happy St Nicholas’ Day to you all.

  29. @MrJones

    “And yet obviously it [immigration] does [drive voting].”

    Okay, you can say that, but it doesn’t. It really really does not. People are not voting for UKIP solely because of immigration, not really. They’re voting for UKIP for a whole host of reasons, ranging from “I do not approve of High Speed 2” to “They shouldn’t have legalised same sex marriages”. UKIP represent a large cloud of reactionary sentiment that appeals to a certain kind of voter of a certain age.

    And I can say those things not through political estimation, but because we can look at polling numbers and responses to questions, and identify that. People vote for UKIP for a host of reasons unrelated to immigration, it’s only really coincidental that Immigration is amongst them because that too is a reactionary sentiment.

    Immigration is high salience but low in motivation. Policy questions on polls only ever reflect salience of those policies, not motivation. Hence my consistent refrain that “Policy polling is junk”. And also why I despair at people who think that you can make policies on immigration to compete with UKIP for voters, it’s not only trying to play on UKIP’s pitch, but it’s not even understanding what game is being played.

    Conservative or Labour party policies on immigration won’t help entice UKIP voters back, because immigration isn’t the main reason they’re going to vote UKIP. Not only can’t you make policies that would appease UKIP voters while retaining moderate ones, you can’t make ones that would be internally consistent!

    And when one of the biggest motivators for UKIP voting intent is “But you can’t trust career politicians!”, there’s nothing that they can do because being a successful politician means UKIP voters hate you automatically. (They’re inevitably bound to turn on Reckless and Carswell sooner or later. It’s the fate of all politicians that appeal to popularist “I’m just a guy like you” sentiment, because to actually do the job well you can’t be just an ordinary guy.)

  30. JayBlanc
    Just picking on this one
    “They’re inevitably bound to turn on Reckless and Carswell sooner or later.”

    Not if they keep their noses clean I suggest, and don’t get involved with coalition or C and S activity. They can remain ‘holier than thou’.

    If the UKIP itself gets a bad image, as time goes on, (quite as likely as the other parties), then I think you may have a point, but it won’t, just because of that event, be personal against the two gentlemen in question. They’ll just fade away.

  31. @Howard

    Well, it’s quite likely they won’t get time anyway, since retaining those by-election wins is in no way a certainty, and polling suggested that even immediately afterwards people had decided to return to voting for main parties. Maybe Reckless and Carswell expect to be then put high on the MEP lists, and at that point they’ll either be declared to be haram or disappear off to the European Parliament where no one is ever heard from again.

  32. @Jayblanc

    “Okay, you can say that, but it doesn’t. It really really does not. People are not voting for UKIP solely because of immigration, not really.”

    “solely”

    There’s a big gap between “not at all” and “solely”.

    “People vote for UKIP for a host of reasons unrelated to immigration, it’s only really coincidental that Immigration is amongst them because that too is a reactionary sentiment … why I despair at people who think that you can make policies on immigration to compete with UKIP for voters”

    The spin from the political class that there are no specific reasons behind hostility to mass immigration and it’s all reactionary hot air is necessary spin from a political class trying to hide the consequences of their actions but it’s obviously nonsense.

    The simplest example of why it’s nonsense is the simple arithmetical point that unless the rate of building infrastructure is greater than or equal to the rate of immigration then the infrastructure per head will go down. This will effect different people to different degrees over time hence the differences in weighting.

    And on this example it will clearly continue to get worse as there is no money to build infrastructure at anything like that rate so clearly for the chunk of people motivated by this reason it would be possible to create policies that would appeal to them on that basis.

    Personally I’d vote for Ukip because of the tens of thousands of 11-16 year old girls who have been forced into prostitution over the last 16 years to meet the increased demand created by the LibLabCon* – not that I necessarily think they’d do anything about it either but through rocking the boat enough in the process of doing well that the full truth comes out and the current political class get completely swept away like they deserve.

    (*also the primary reason for the thousands of slaves)

  33. @JAYBLANC

    “retaining those by-election wins is in no way a certainty”

    I’d say it was as near a certainty as makes no difference in Clacton that Carswell will retain the seat.

  34. Mr Jones
    “…not that I necessarily think they’d do anything about it either but through rocking the boat enough…”

    Well said. Ukip might well end up with just as many crooks and charlatans as the rest of them, but the process of rocking the boat will wipe some of the complacent patronising smug expressions off the faces of the current incumbents.

  35. Opinium/Observer:

    Labour 34 (+1), Con 29(-1), Ukip 19 n/c, LDems 6 (-1), Grn 6 (+2).

  36. @Mr Jones

    Again, this isn’t political spin. This is based on what people say in survey on what it would take to get them to vote Conservative or Labour again. UKIP’s party manifesto is after all made up of these kind of policies, so UKIP are not really a ‘single policy party’, they’re explicitly the party of “We’re against it”.

    Your malthusian arrhythmic is ‘true’ for any cause of population increase, but reduction of productive population also has bad economic consequences. Your arithmetic is one sided, and further actually ignores the recent well documented investigations into immigration that found they’re generating net tax benefit to the government, and so to funding of infrastructure, far in excess of the native population.

    Immigrants are paying their own way in that regards, it’s the natives who are putting the strain on the infrastructure.

    And I think when you go around claiming that “The political classes” are responsible for increasing demand for prostitutes and slaves… It makes you sound like a kook.

  37. @Mr Jones

    How precisely did Lib/Lab/Con created the demand for the prostitution of 11-16 year old girls?

    What evidence can you provide to support this hypothesis?

  38. “Labour has stretched its lead over the Tories to five-points but now lags further behind the Conservatives on the crucial issue of economic credibility, according to the latest Observer/Opinium poll.”

    L34, C29, U19, LD6

  39. Aha, the first one and Amber is back with us. Is there a link please?

  40. @Amber

    I wonder the extent to which people on individual issues tell pollsters what they think others may believe rather than what they believe.

    For example they tend to say the economy is in reasonable shape but not in their own personal circumstances.

    Hence they trust the Tories more on the economy but have Labour ahead by 5%.

  41. That said it’s a big lead for the Tories – 32% to 18% on the economy.

  42. @RAF

    “The Economy” has become that abstract thing that Bankers and Commodity Traders make money out of. Nothing to do with what’s in the back pocket of the person answering the question.

    So you can ask someone “Do you think people are financially better or worse now?” and they’ll answer “Worse”, then ask “Do you think the economy is better or worse now?” and they’ll answer “Better”.

  43. Jayblanc

    “Again, this isn’t political spin.”

    Does increasing the population (y) faster than increasing infrastructure (x) decrease the ratio of x/y?

    The answer is obviously yes and proves my point that there are very obvious specific reasons for opposition to the current rate of immigration.

    Attempts to pretend there aren’t are just spin.

    The effect of things like the above are weighted differently between different chunks of voters in different areas at different times which is why when you average out all the different chunks of voters around the country you get an “average” voter who doesn’t exist.

    Which is where the argument started.

    “Your arithmetic is one sided, and further actually ignores the recent well documented investigations into immigration that found they’re generating net tax benefit to the government, and so to funding of infrastructure, far in excess of the native population.”

    1) The report didn’t say that because it couldn’t say it because the infrastructure to keep pace with the increase in numbers hasn’t been built.

    2) Even if the spin about net benefit was true it still wouldn’t be true *now* because the necessary infrastructure hasn’t been built.

    “Immigrants are paying their own way in that regards, it’s the natives who are putting the strain on the infrastructure.”

    As the infrastructure necessary to keep pace with the rate of change hasn’t been built yet that can’t be true can it?

    “And I think when you go around claiming that “The political classes” are responsible for increasing demand for prostitutes and slaves… It makes you sound like a kook.”

    Well if/when Cameron, Clegg and Miliband announce a full investigation into the scale of the problem (more than two years after the Times first broke the wall of silence) maybe they will find out what the primary causes are.

    Wild guess but I expect it’s something to do with supply and demand.

  44. I provided a link to what i asked for but it went into mod. : -(

  45. RAF

    “For example they tend to say the economy is in reasonable shape but not in their own personal circumstances.”

    People mostly only know their own area so if the telly says “the economy” is getting better then people can believe it is getting better everywhere except where that person lives. It’s only after a while that people see the telly was wrong.

    @CMJ

    “What evidence can you provide to support this hypothesis?”

    The evidence they’d get if they investigated it.

    It’s an industry.

  46. Good Evening All. It was a beautiful day on our beach.

    MRNAMELESS and AMBER STAR:

    Thank you for the poll news, and I expect everyone is surprised at the figures, given George Osborne’s fiscal successes, and also surprised at the Lib Dem figures.

    It seems that Ed M had not been given the knock out blow, yet.

  47. http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/dec/06/observer-opinium-poll-autumn-statement-labour-lead

    @ Howard
    I’m trying to post a link but it’s the Graun so might be rejected…

  48. @ Howard

    I tried to post a link to the Opinium poll article but it’s in the Gruanian, so it was rejected.

  49. Colin

    Chart 2.9 here.

    https://www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/364169/OBR_forecast_evaluation_report_2014_accessible.pdf

    I was a year put by the way, sorry.

    The OBR’s calculation of the effect of 2010-onwards fiscal policy on GDP per year is
    2010/11 -0.8%
    2011/12 -1.75%
    2012/13 -1.75%
    2013/14 -1.5%

    Sum total -5.8% of GDP. And that’s using quite conservative assumptions for the fiscal multipliers. Much lower than the IMF think is suitable.

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