Robert Peston, economics editor

Robert Peston Economics editor

Welcome to Peston's Picks - for my latest thoughts on the big economic events around the world making us richer or poorer

Living standards not quite back to peak

  • 4 March 2015
  • From the section Business
Money

Given that Labour has based so much of its attack on the government on the unprecedented slowness of the recovery in living standards following the Great Recession of 2008-09, Tories and Lib Dems are thrilled that the real or inflation-adjusted income of a typical household is now back to where it was in 2007-08, according to the IFS.

That said, they are probably less joyful that this measure of living standards is still 2% below its all-time peak of 2009-10: incomes continued to rise during the recession when benefit and tax-credit payments outstripped inflation (simultaneously wreaking havoc on the public finances).

On the other hand, those statistics almost certainly don't describe your experience - because according to the IFS, the typical income of a 22- to 30-year-old has fallen 7.6% over the past six years, whereas that of someone over 60 has risen 1.8% (and there has been a gentle fall in living standards for those in the middle age group).

And the IFS says what is really striking is not that the typical or median real household income fell by 4% from its 2009-10 peak to a trough in 2011-12, but that subsequently the recovery has been a meagre 1.8% - compared with a 9.2% rise in the comparable first three years after the early 1980s downturn.

Has income inequality worsened?

The IFS is careful not to pin most of the blame for stagnating living standards on either the coalition government or on the preceding Labour one. It says that the prime culprit is the UK's hard-to-explain woeful productivity performance - lacklustre rises in the output of workers - which has meant that significant wage rises have been unaffordable.

Read full article Living standards not quite back to peak

How Labour pays for student fee cut

  • 27 February 2015
  • From the section Business
Ed Miliband

Here is how Ed Miliband is trying to answer some of the questions I raised about who will benefit from his cut in student fees and how this cut will be financed.

Labour will try to make sure that graduates who get the highest paid jobs don't disproportionately benefit from the cut in fees and associated debt from £9,000 to £6,000 by putting up the interest rate on student debt by an unspecified amount for higher earners - to raise £200m a year.

Read full article How Labour pays for student fee cut

Student-fee questions for Miliband

  • 27 February 2015
  • From the section Business
Ed Miliband

So as I mentioned a few weeks ago, Ed Miliband is about to confirm his plan to cut student tuition fees from £9,000 to £6,000.

What has been leaked overnight is that in some way he will pay for the £2bn-or-so upfront costs with cuts to tax reliefs on pensions.

Read full article Student-fee questions for Miliband

How many cheers for migration?

  • 26 February 2015
  • From the section Business
Gatwick airport

One contentious measure of the success of the British economy is the sheer number of foreigners who want to come here to work.

In the year to September 2014, some 271,000 people from overseas migrated here to work, which was the highest number since this data was first collected (so for at least a decade), and is up from 217,000 in the previous year.

Read full article How many cheers for migration?

The long road to NHS devolution

  • 25 February 2015
  • From the section Business
Hospital ward

Senior Treasury officials first started talking to me about how they would dearly love to see the NHS broken up back in the late 1990s, when New Labour was in power.

Their argument was that an organisation as big as NHS England, with its annual budget these days of around £100bn and 1.2 million employees, was simply too big to be manageable in an efficient and effective way.

Read full article The long road to NHS devolution

How the falling oil price is hitting Russia

  • 24 February 2015
  • From the section Business

Sanctions and the tumbling oil price have sent the Russian economy spiralling into recession. I went to Moscow to assess the impact on Russian people - and whether the country's economic woes will force President Putin to become less aggressive in Ukraine and more emollient with the West.

Read full article How the falling oil price is hitting Russia

Syriza dumps Marx for Blair

  • 24 February 2015
  • From the section Business
Yanis Varoufakis, 5 Feb 15
Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis risks buying economic stability at the price of political instability

In the short course of the latest Greek financial crisis, Syriza appears to have transformed itself from what in the UK would be seen as traditional leftists into Blairites.

In the reforms proposed by the Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis to secure a four-month extension of its life-or-death bailout, vanished are the party's seeming implacable hostility to privatisation, determination to re-hire sacked public-sector workers, and desire for rapid rises in minimum wages.

Read full article Syriza dumps Marx for Blair

Greece saved from disaster - for two days

  • 20 February 2015
  • From the section Business
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis holds a press conference after a Eurogroup finance ministers meeting at the European Council headquarters in Brussels - 20 February 2015
Yanis Varoufakis believes he has been given the green light to ease up on austerity

Greece and Germany have stepped back from the brink. And for now Greece remains in the eurozone.

But there will be months of fraught negotiations before it will be clear whether the economy and finances of this recession-battered nation have been put back on a stable footing.

Read full article Greece saved from disaster - for two days

What will Germany pay for not compromising with Greece?

  • 19 February 2015
  • From the section Business
euro coin

You could argue that the very public nature of the disagreement between Germany and Greece, over the terms of the latest attempt by Greece to avoid financial collapse, is good for the reputation of the eurozone.

In that at least colossal sums of taxpayer's money aren't being committed via murky deals in the kind of hidden-away government rooms that used to be smoke-filled.

Read full article What will Germany pay for not compromising with Greece?

Euro's existential threat

  • 17 February 2015
  • From the section Business
Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis

The acrimonious breakdown of talks last night between Greece and other eurozone governments on a new financial and economic settlement for the debt-burdened country isn't just another swerve in the longest game of chicken in financial history.

It crystallises for the first time how much is at stake for Berlin and other eurozone governments, in the nature of what led to this latest impasse.

Read full article Euro's existential threat

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About Robert

Robert has won numerous awards for his journalism, including Journalist of the Year, Specialist Journalist of the Year and Scoop of the Year (twice) from the Royal Television Society, Performer of the Year from the Broadcasting Press Guild, and Broadcaster of the Year and Journalist of the Year from the Wincott Foundation.

Prior to joining the BBC, he was political editor and financial editor of the Financial Times, City Editor of the Sunday Telegraph and a columnist for the New Statesman and Sunday Times.

He broadcast and published a series of influential reports about the causes and consequences of the global financial crisis.

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