xxxx


home | interview questions | cv writing | interview technique

Monday, 28 January 2008

New forum

Just a quick announcement to say that we have added a new forum to the site. The old one was getting clogged up with spam and had become unworkable. Hopefully this one will be better and allow you all to discuss interview experiences, give tips and provide details of your own career and job interview tips web site.

The forum can be found here - www.whatwilltheyask.co.uk/phpbb3

Labels: , ,

posted by Carl Malways at | 0 Comments Links to this post


home | interview questions | cv writing | interview technique

Monday, 21 January 2008

Worst day for FTSE since 9/11

Today was the worst day for the FTSE 100 since the attacks on the Twin Towers. Fears that recession in the US is now more a probability rather than a possibility has fueled fears that this will have an impact on company profits in the United Kingdom, particularly the large, internationally focused firms.

The worst hit companies were commodity based firms. The slowdown in the US and the likelihood that China will put the breaks on is set to reduce the demand for commodities such as copper. As a result the price of copper and other commodities are likely to fall in 2008 and as such so will the profits of the major mining companies. Other factors such as stalled aquisition plans also had a negative impact upon firms in this sector.

With the US markets closed today the full impact of today's fall will start to become clearer tomorrow. The market has been particularly volatile during the past six months and as such it would not be a great surprise if investors believe the markets went too far today and start to buy some shares which now look cheap.

However this level of nervousness and instability is not a good sign for the markets and the wider economy. Markets now seem to be coming to a conclusion that the United States is entering - or may have already entered - a recession. This will have a negative knock on effect upon the whole of the international economy. Although it may take some time to directly impact the UK, it will put downwards pressure on exports from the UK - not just to the US but internationally as the whole world slows. Weaker financial markets will also hinder activity in the financial services sector in London which provides many jobs and is a principle driver of the whole economy.

Coupled with the credit crunch the financial system is not looking in good health. This coupled with the slowdown in the US, over stretched consumers, a weakening housing market, high government debt and continued inflationary pressures will not make 2008 a very tough year. A recession in the UK is still not a likely outcome, however it won't take to much for it to become more so.

Get ready for rising unemployment and a tougher labour market - if you're looking for a job expect less opportunities and greater competition. If you are moving jobs choose the sector and company carefully because not all companies will survive 2008.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

posted by Carl Malways at | 0 Comments Links to this post


home | interview questions | cv writing | interview technique

Friday, 18 January 2008

Belt tightening at Christmas

The Office of National Statistics today produced the December retail sales providing further evidence that the United Kingdom is entering a significant slowdown. These figures add further evidence to suggest that 2008 will be a tough year across the whole economy, not just financial services.

The figures showed that despite it being Christmas and prices being slashed, people have been either unwilling or unable to spend their money either at the shops or online. As a result sales volumes in the three months to December rose by only 0.4 per cent compared to the previous three months and between November and December sales volumes actually fell by 0.4 per cent – mainly in the non-food sector.

Even though many will not have felt the pinch of higher interest rates, lower house prices or higher unemployment, most believe it is coming. Therefore consumers are tightening their belts in anticipation of a rough year. Many people will be looking at their savings (or more likely debt) and wondering how they will be able to pay their mortgage when it is set at a higher rate, or how they would survive if they lost their jobs.

Economic slowdowns are created as a result of both fundamental problems with the economy and people reacting to them. Without this reaction economic activity can receive a significant boost making a downturn less severe. However, without these reactions the economy is merely making the problem worse in the long run. Economic fundamentals become ever more stretched – such as savings, debt and household budgets – and eventually a significant correction is required. This correction could come as a short, sharp shock or it could be a sustained period of below average growth. Either way, this will be painful process for many.

In many ways the UK economy has been putting off a slowdown for too long. Economic fundamentals are looking unbalanced and in need of correction. The extent and timing of the correction is still not clear, however, it seems certain that it will begin in 2008 and will be unpleasant for many.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , ,

posted by Carl Malways at | 0 Comments Links to this post


home | interview questions | cv writing | interview technique

Wednesday, 16 January 2008

Labour market statistics - hiding the start of slowdown 2008

As I mentioned yesterday the Labour market statistics were released today, and as I expected they have yet to highlight the slowdown in the wider economy. However, with economic statistics, looking at one months worth of data can be very misleading, especially when you fail to put it in the wider context.

Looking at the monthly data nearly all the data was good news for the UK economy. Unemployment was down, employment was up and the number of people claiming benefits was down. This looked like a continuation of a very successful period of labour market expansion.

Nevertheless, these figures hide the variations caused by end of year demand for employment in financial services and Christmas employment in the retail and leisure sectors.

I would expect to see in first quarter of 2008 being a much less impressive year for the labour market. With retailers likely to have suffered a very tough Christmas, employment in these sectors is set to fall. The banks and other financial institutions are also expected to cut employment. Citi has already announced planned cuts of around 20,000 jobs worldwide - many of these are likely to be in London.

What is of a greater concern is that these figures may delay decisive action by the Bank of England. Today's release indicated a pick up in the rate of wage inflation, which in turn will stimulate general levels of inflation. As such, with the prospect of increased inflationary pressures, the Monetary Policy Committee may decide to be more cautious about cutting rates.

Today's data is likely to be one of the last bits of positive labour market news in 2008. Tougher times have already arrived for many people, the data will catch up in February and March to prove this.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

posted by Carl Malways at | 0 Comments Links to this post


home | interview questions | cv writing | interview technique

Tuesday, 15 January 2008

A necessary evil - Inflation in 2008

The December consumer price index data was released today showing that annual inflation remained at 2.1 per cent in the month. Annual inflation has remained at 2.1 per cent for three months now, but is likely to pick up as the year continues, particularly following Monday’s producer price index and continued high price of oil.

Nevertheless, there are signs that inflation should moderate in the second half of the year. The biggest drivers of inflation in the first half of 2008 will be food and fuel. Food prices are very hard to forecast given the variability of the weather, however, there are a few of factors that should help to increase agricultural yields.

The first is that the European Union has decided to suspend its annual subsidy to farmers that leave ten per cent of their farmland fallow.

The second factor is the fact that record highs in the price of wheat will encourage farmers across the globe to plant more and to reduce the percentage share of their crop being used for bio fuel – particularly as the price of oil is likely to fall back as the world economy slows.

Demand is unlikely to be significantly reduced by the slow down in the world economy, as food is a necessity. Therefore the supply side will be the key to reducing food prices.

Oil prices have risen significantly, almost doubling over the past twelve months. The price of oil has been supported by a number of supply issues throughout the summer and rising world consumption. Despite this, it is likely the price of oil has risen above the level suggested by simple supply and demand. The weakness of the dollar and the wider United States financial system has encouraged investors to move to safer products such as commodities such as gold and oil. Nevertheless as the US economy slows in 2008 so will their demand for oil. A significant slowdown will dampen prices. Many forecasters are now suggesting that oil prices will drop by about 25 per cent in the year. As a result by the final quarter of 2008, the year-on-year price of oil could be having a negative impact on inflation.

The rate of inflation is important because it is the key measure in determining the stance of the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC). With the consumer price index currently above the target of 2.0 per cent the MPC will be keeping a close eye on this measure. Nevertheless, this is unlikely to stop the MPC from cutting interest rates at least twice (and probably more) in 2008. The MPC is willing to live with above target inflation in the short-term to maintain economic output and stave off a recession.

Tomorrow’s labour market statistics will be particularly interesting to see whether the credit crunch and the wider problems in the economy are starting to have an impact on employment. I would suggest that seasonal employment in December is likely to have hidden some of the early signs of weakness. We will see…

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

posted by Carl Malways at | 0 Comments Links to this post