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Fake news, the Bank of England and forming your own opinion

goat-1638961_1920Listening to the common narrative these days we hear a lot about being in the era of ‘fake news‘.

Whilst undoubtedly there is some ‘made up news’ around, much of the conversation online seems to be spent arguing about stories with selective use of facts and heavily influenced by personal opinion bias.

Even in what would be considered mainstream media it sometimes feels we have a battle of ‘fake news‘ vs ‘fake news‘, with audiences simply agreeing with the outlet that most confirms their own opinion.

One only has to look at the comments section in news reports to see the arguments rage.  Facts and balance seems to quickly get pushed out of the discussion after a few comments.  They frequently degrade to the hurling of insults.

Data rich, time poor

This is frustrating, and somewhat ironic that it is happening in an era where there is more information readily available than ever before.

In many ways, our challenge is not getting the facts, but getting the time to review the data, consider it and form our own opinion.  In a time challenged world, it is all too easy to look for shortcuts and as a consequence be influenced other peoples opinion, not form your own.

Bank of England

A good example is the data from the Bank of England.  There are a couple of reports that are always worth a read.

They often contain interesting data and insight, the pieces just need fitting together.

The latest set of publications is no different and tell an interesting story.

The ‘lets go shopping’ economy

Post EU-Brexit vote, the population collectively seems to have decided… ‘let’s go shopping’.

Maybe it was buying now in anticipation of prices going up, or for others just a sense of empowerment spilling over into retail purchases.  Either way the reaction has been one of retail therapy, generating a boost to the economy.

However, looking deeper, this appears to be being fuelled by an expansion of consumer borrowing.

Even more concerning is the extent to which material prices are going up.  We may not have felt this at the supermarket yet (although it did seem like there was less tea in my tea bag this morning, and my chocolate bar is smaller…!), however it appears there is something on its way.

Pipeline risks

Pulling this all together it feels there are a few key risks in the pipeline.

Undoubtedly an unusual set of dynamics at play here and despite a relatively benign environment the last few years, it appears the data is showing a change.

Now is the time to get ready, and have a strategy.

Freedom to form your own opinion

The BoE data is interesting, and this is at least is my opinion….!

By all means listen to others, however be it Economics, Climate Change, Government spending or a subject of your choosing, it is well worth finding the time to source the data, keep an open mind and form your own opinion.

In the current environment that is a very valuable commodity indeed.



BoE data and graphs below, to help form your own view..!

Retail Confidence has been up – Confidence shopping


This, together with the weakness in the pound, has helped drive manufacturing demand.

1CAB46E1-E488-4E67-AE5B-8A3E18704B33…and this ‘confidence’ is spilling over to hiring intentions and ‘potential’ for new jobs.

C785D06F-DDFF-473B-9554-030C5129D08CHowever….  in order to fuel this spending we have been borrowing more, with the industry lending more (including higher LTV lending)

Credit Cards


Motor finance



…. yet…. all the while underlying input prices are going up.


(all data BoE from datasources linked above)


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Global trends… from your local take out

Fast foodI have always been fascinated how unusual things can often be indicators of much larger trends.  On a recent visit to Manchester I was struck by another.

Due to a local football match I had trouble finding accommodation centrally so was staying outside the city centre.  As I spent time studying in Manchester when I was younger, and having some time one evening, I decided to take a trip down memory lane.

After seeing the sights, it was time for dinner and I spotted one of the old fast food chains I used to frequent…. dinner was served.

A fine dining experience!

Now, by no means would I describe the Canadian Charcoal Pit as a fine dining restaurant, but to a 19 year old at the time, this was towards the top end of my budget.  It always served the better char grilled burgers and kebabs in fresh surroundings, at least as I remembered.  Amazingly nearly 20 years later, it was still in business, the food and decor still the same.

The people behind the counter were friendly and busy as ever.  Kebabs were being grilled, with a line of pizza boxes behind them standing like a wall, gradually being filled with orders.

However, something had changed – quite dramatically.

  • I was the only customer physically there, for the whole time.  I ate alone.
  • On paying for my food, by cash, the owner had to go to his car to get £5 of change.

It felt strange and then it dawned on me what had changed….  the world has moved online, we have the internet and computers sitting in the palm of our hand.  Everyone was clearly ordering food for delivery from their smart phones, paying electronically.

By visiting in person I was clearly the outlier, not the norm.

Global trends, local impacts

Now, apart from making me feel old, it was fascinating how this small chain of fast food locations in Manchester neatly illustrated the global communications revolution that is taking place.

As this micro-indicator illustrates, a low-level, fundamental shift in a society, a dramatic change in behaviour is underway.  It is starting to permeate all aspects of our lives, both social and business.

As consumers, this is something we all know and experience.  However, like a time machine, being able to visit the same place many years apart brought these differences into sharp contrast.  In the scramble of daily life it can often be difficult to realise the extent of the change underway.

As employees, employers and business owners, the radical and deep nature of this change needs to be understood.  It is going to be critical to keep up and stay ahead.

…. Best wishes for 2017 everyone.

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Most Read: 2016

Taking a look back on the year, these are the most read posts in 2016.  Many thanks for the support, best wishes for the new year.

  1. The end of outbound calls as we know it?
  2. 1,000 LinkedIn Connections – does it really matter?
  3. Think you are in control?…. think again
  4. Why does no one read my blog – when is comment too much comment?
  5. The Rise of the Micro-Indicator: Getting the lead on leading indicators
  6. Speak customer, not contact channel
  7. Is all social media worth it?
  8. Digital and Customer Centric: The Future of Collections?
  9. Why I went back to Blackberry…
  10. Risk Management:  The importance readiness planning
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