Wriglesworth Paper Summary: 6th August 2013

Economics

Things are getting better, and they’re getting better faster than they have for some time. Markit’s composite PMI (or Purchasing Managers’ Index) tracks a combination of the separate PMI readings for each section of the economy – and this is at an all-time record high. Anything above 50 indicates expansion, but in July the composite measure hit 59.48. While all sectors are growing in unison according to the measure, services lead the charge last month – recording a measure of 60.2, the highest since 2006. (Financial Times p.1, City A.M. p.1, Daily Telegraph B.1, & everywhere)

Personal Finance

Two stories this morning highlight the growing split between the positive economic news and the difficulty for personal budgets. Firstly, the economic data stands in stark contrast to the latest data on wages – which have not beaten the tide of inflation since Marc 2010 (Financial Times p.2) Yesterday’s YouGov poll in The Times highlights this (reported this morning again in the FT – p.3) with 58% of workers believing their pay will be lower in real terms in a year’s time. Secondly, payday loans are still thoroughly on the agenda, with Alex Salmond weighing into the debate, promising war with “those who aim to exploit” (BBC News)

Property

Stamp duty is becoming commonplace across England and Wales, according to research by the Taxpayers’ Alliance. One in four now has to pay over £7,500, while buyers in London and the South east are “often” facing bills of over £20,000. Since the start of the recession the government has increased its annual taking from the tax by £1 billion, and the Treasury now receives £4 billion every year from stamp duty. The Taxpayers’ Alliance calls the tax “punitive” in its campaign, highlighting the inconsistency with schemes like “Help to Buy”. (The Times p.1, Daily Express p.2)

Recruitment

HSBC has vowed to increase salaries to make up for lower bonuses to its staff caused by new European proposals that could become law. The bank is worried about losing talent, with the chairman, Douglas Flint, warning that the legislation, due to come into force at the start of next year “could be damaging”. A recent survey by Mercer said that four in five European banks were planning to raise salaries to maintain total pay, while limiting bonuses to twice base salaries. However, shareholders would prefer to keep as much of the remuneration in the form of bonuses so as to keep total remuneration as closely tied to performance as possible. (Telegraph B.1)

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