Are You Happier Than You Were Four Years Ago?

Depending on whether you believe the IFS or Ed Balls, the jury is out on Reagan’s question of “are you better off than you were four years ago”. One barometer that cannot be statistically disputed however is the question of whether or not we should, based on economic indicators, be more miserable than we were in 2010. There has been a clear decline in Guido’s Misery Index during this parliament and we should be happier today than we have ever been in the last five years.

Cameron and Osborne inherited an unemployment rate of 7.9% when they took office, a number which rose as high as 8.4% in March 2012 but has now fallen to a low of 5.7%, the lowest since 2008.

Falling inflation should make us happier. Though the Retail Price Index remained around 5% for the first year or so of this government, it then embarked on a steady decline reaching a current low of 1.1% in February.

Today’s very slightly revised GDP figures – up from 0.5% growth in the last quarter of last year to 0.6% – also contribute. While the Public Sector Net Cash Requirement – the individual monthly borrowing requirement – this month stands at zero. When we are borrowing less, we should all be much happier.

On all four measures of the Misery Index, there has been an improvement under this government, albeit small. Guido started our version of the traditional Misery Index – it is actually a variation on the Robert Barro version of the original Misery Index created by economist Arthur Okun – back before the last general election. Adding in the PSNR to the composite to give the deficit reduction objective of the government some weight. Are we happier than we were five years ago? Statistically the numbers say yes…

Another Shot Fox: IFS Say Yes To Reagan Question

Last year Ed Balls wrote:

‘”Are you better off than you were four years ago?” That was the question Ronald Reagan famously asked the American people in his first Presidential election campaign.

The answer back in 1980 was no — and his Democrat opponent Jimmy Carter was thrown out of the White House after just one term of office.

Thirty-five years on, it’s clear that Reagan’s famous question will be centre-stage in next year’s general election. Every previous British prime minister in my lifetime has always been able to answer it in the affirmative. But David Cameron is currently set to buck that trend…’

Today the IFS announce:

“Average household incomes have just about regained their pre-recession levels. They are finally rising and probably will be higher in 2015 than they were in 2010, and possibly higher than their 2009 peak.”

Are you better off than you were four years ago? Yes, probably.

GUIDO POLL: Foreign Nando’s V British Harvester

The PM has claimed that foreign food from Nando’s is better value than a good old British Harvester. He probably focus grouped his answers, but is he out of touch?

iPen Ain’t Gonna Happen

apple_haptic_stylus

Tech journalists have been lapping up a report by analysis firm KGI Securities that confidently predicts Apple will unveil a Stylus for its iPad in the second quarter of this year. It would be quite a change of philosophy for Apple whose entire empire is now built on screens you jab your finger at, so you would have thought KGI had some pretty explosive evidence upon which to base their prophecy. But no, it turns out Apple has filed some patents for stylus type devices over the last few years.

headlines

As every Apple geek knows, the Cupertino giant patents anything remotely related to their products – they even have a patent for sensors that will tell your iPhone when your shoes wear out. It’s become a rule at Apple to be prepared to fight a patent war with anyone after they got stung for $100m by Creative who claimed the first iPod infringing its patents. And Steve Jobs did have quite strong feeling on styluses:

Techno Guido will eat his Nexus if they actually make an iPen…

Plummeting Public Trust in Lefty NGOs

Edelman has published its annual “trust barometer”, sampling a massive 27,000 people on how they rate politicians, industries and organisations on honesty. The stand out figure is the huge drop in trust for leftist activists disguised as do-gooders: NGOs. In the last year trust in NGOs has plummeted from 67% to 51%, falling below business in the honesty stakes.

Why? The survey found “an excessive focus on money and NGOs losing touch with the UK are the main causes for those losing trust in NGOs”. The report concludes that “the UK is drifting in the ‘trust doldrums’… NGOs are the worst hit”…

Are You Happier Than You Were Five Years Ago?


According to the Misery Index, the answer is yes. This is officially the least miserable we have been since Guido started recording the nation’s unhappiness before the last election. The fall in inflation today, as well as a slightly lower Public Sector Net Cash Requirement this month, means there is a clear downward trend in misery levels and that we are happier today than we have been in five years.

No wonder Miliband this week proposed a different index to measure the nation’s well-being…

N.B. stats bods can check Guido’s adding up here.

Labour Hit Back With Their Own Misleading Poster

Labour’s new poster out tonight is as deliberately misleading as the Tory effort earlier this week. What do the OBR say about Osborne’s spending plans? In 2020 public spending will fall to 35% of GDP, “below the previous post-war lows reached in 1957-58 and 1999-00 to what would probably be its lowest level in 80 years”. So as a proportion of GDP spending falls to 1930s levels, but in actual day-to-day real terms the OBR says: “by 2019-20 day-to-day spending on public services would be at its lowest level since 2002-03 in real terms. Five more months of this to go…

Danny’s Balls

dannys-ball-forecasts2

Guido has in the past reflected on the accuracy of Danny Blanchflower’s economic forecasting. How have his more recent forecasts of doom and gloom fared?

“Pay is going nowhere,” said the sage of Dartmouth last month, warning “we won’t see real wage growth until 2016 at the earliest”. Dopey Danny was following up on his June prediction that there is little likelihood of real wage growth rising in the months ahead”. He also made the same warning in May“I wish the MPC good luck with their forecast that real wages are set to rise in the second half of 2014”.

Lo and behold, today’s ONS data shows that “average earnings are now definitely rising”. He really should throw away his crystal ball…

LibDems Spent £1.5 Million on Winning One Euro Seat

The Electoral Commission today reveals how much each party spent on their European election campaigns. The big bucks splashed by the Tories and UKIP meant they paid six figures for each seat won. Labour got best value for money, spending just over a million quid for their 20 seats, or just over £50,000 per MEP.[…] Read the rest

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Greens 2 Points Ahead of LibDems For First Time

Labour and UKIP types talking down the Green Surge should beware today’s YouGov/Sun poll.[…] Read the rest

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Labour Oppositions Never Gain Ground in Final Six Months

Fascinating analysis on ConHome showing how Labour’s poll ratings six months out from elections have historically compared with the final election result. Guido’s graph above illustrates how “Labour consistently end up winning fewer votes in the general election than the polls would have suggested six months in advance”.[…] Read the rest

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YouGov/Sun Poll Tracker: Greens in Fourth Again

The YouGov website does not include the Green Party in their voting intentions graphs, so Guido has decided to give them their deserved billing. Once again the Greens are in fourth today, knocking the LibDems down into fifth. As you can see above this is starting to look like a trend.[…] Read the rest

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Poll: Labour Won’t Deliver “Programme British People Want”

How many relaunches is that now? Ed Miliband’s big speech on the economy today is being tipped by sympathetic quarters of the press as showing Labour are serious about reducing the deficit, so at least there’s no chance he will forget to mention it this time.[…] Read the rest

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First They Came for the Upper Decile…

top-decile

Yesterday was another orgy of “bash the rich” political populism. Once again, as the above chart from the Treasury shows, the most productive people were punished the most by the Chancellor. This is because he thinks it is good politics. It isn’t.[…] Read the rest

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45% of Satanists Vote Tory

Firefighting the somewhat unfortunate endorsement of UKIP by Nick Griffin, telly’s Suzanne Evans produced the stat of the day:

From whence came this macabre revelation?[…] Read the rest

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77% Increase in Immigration From Romania and Bulgaria

Via the ONS:

  • Net migration was 260,000 last year, a statistically significant increase from 182,000 in the previous 12 months.
  • It remains below the peak of 320,000 in the year ending June 2005.
  • 583,000 people immigrated last year, a statistically significant increase from 502,000 in the previous 12 months.
[…] Read the rest

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