Ben CHu, The Independent

Ben CHu

The Independent

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Past articles by Ben:

Government departments need extra £11bn to end austerity, warns Institute for Fiscal Studies

Philip Hammond would need to find an additional £11bn for unprotected government departments to spare them from further austerity, according to the latest estimates from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS). In last year’s November Budget the chancellor announced that “the era of austerity finally coming to an end”. → Read More

Could we see the economic impact of a no-deal Brexit much sooner than we think?

The Business Secretary, Greg Clark, warned last week that the real Brexit deadline for some exports is not 29 March but 15 February. This is because it takes six weeks to ship cars from the UK to Japan. → Read More

Brexit uncertainty to drive UK economy to weakest since last recession, says Bank of England

Brexit uncertainty will slash UK economic growth in 2019 to the weakest rate since the global financial crisis a decade ago even if the UK manages to secure an orderly departure from the European Union next month, according to the Bank of England’s latest forecasts. → Read More

How would a no-deal Brexit affect domestic-focused UK firms?

The Brexit media spotlight has, for understandable reasons, tended to shine on exporting firms and major manufacturers with just-in-time supply chains, such as Nissan. → Read More

Nissan has been betrayed by Brexit ideologues like Jacob Rees-Mogg

There’s something tragically appropriate about the fact that the most high profile British industrial story, as the country staggers in the direction of a no-deal Brexit, should involve Nissan. → Read More

UK economy stalls as services flatline and Brexit fears mount

The UK’s services firms saw activity almost flatline in January as firms reported mounting Brexit fears from clients. The Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 50.1, the weakest since the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote and only just above the 50 mark that separates growth from contraction. → Read More

Was Brexit behind Nissan’s decision not to build the X-Trail in Sunderland?

Nissan’s decision to abandon plans to build the diesel X-Trail SUV at its Sunderland plant and to construct the model in Japan instead has been presented by many as clear evidence of the harm already being done to UK industry by Brexit. → Read More

UK construction activity slumps in January as Brexit concerns continue to rise

Construction activity slumped in January as Brexit fears intensified among firms, according to the latest survey of the sector. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) fell to 50.6 in the month, down from 52.8 previously, and only marginally above the 50 mark that separates expansion from contraction. → Read More

How can the UK continue trading on current terms with third countries covered by EU trade deals?

Analysis: The EU has more than 50 trade deals of various sorts with third countries either in place, partly in place, or pending. What happens to UK trade with them after Brexit? Ben Chu looks at the state of play → Read More

When it comes to higher taxes on the wealthy, listen to the economists – not the billionaires

Money doesn’t talk, it swears, sang Bob Dylan. And liberal billionaires in the US are certainly not being polite about the latest policy ideas emanating from America’s Democratic Party. → Read More

Could Germany's domestic economic pain compel Berlin to soften its hard line on Brexit?

Does the logic stand up? How much is Germany’s slowdown actually due to Brexit? And how damaging would a no-deal scenario be for Europe’s largest economy? → Read More

UK manufacturers stockpile at record pace in January ahead of Brexit

Manufacturers built their inventory at a record pace in January as fears grew of a no-deal Brexit in March and analysts warned of a “clear risk” of recession for the sector. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) showed that stocks of inputs were up at the fastest pace in the 27-year history of the survey. → Read More

Fifth of UK firms have already moved operations abroad due to Brexit, new survey shows

A fifth of UK firms have moved operations overseas due to Brexit, while a further 12 per cent are planning or considering it, according a new survey by the Institute of Directors (IoD). The findings support multiple warnings that many businesses are now well past the point of no return when it comes to taking contingency action, as MPs fail to agree on how to leave the → Read More

Are there really any viable ‘alternative arrangements’ for the Irish border?

Theresa May is returning to Brussels to try to renegotiate the European Union withdrawal agreement to make it acceptable to a majority of MPs in the House of Commons. But what will she ask for? → Read More

UK consumer borrowing slowed sharply in December, says Bank of England

Annual growth of unsecured lending in the month fell to 6.6 per cent, down from 7.2 per cent in November → Read More

What are World Trade Organisation rules and what exactly do they mean?

There is no more popular piece of jargon in the Brexit debate than “World Trade Organisation rules”. Some cite them with approval, as a desirable destination for the UK upon leaving the European Union. Others portray them as a disastrous outcome that we should avoid at all cost. But what’s the truth about the WTO and its framework? And what precisely does it entail for the UK? → Read More

What is Venezuela’s new currency system and what is it supposed to achieve?

Venezuela’s tottering ruling regime approved a new privately-run currency exchange system this week. It is intended to operate in parallel to the official system for changing money. But how will it work? What’s the point of it? And is it likely to succeed in its aim? What is the system? The regime says a new currency platform called “Interbanex” will sell dollars for 3,200 → Read More

UK council tax benefit cuts resulted in surge of unpaid bills, new research finds

Cuts to council tax benefit by the government over the past five years have resulted in an explosion of unpaid tax, according to new research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies. In 2013 centralised council tax benefit (CTB), which gave financial help for low-income households with their council tax, was abolished and replaced with a less well-funded council tax support (CTS) → Read More

On pensions, the government has placed freedom over protection – but will it make us better off?

Many are choosing cash over annuities because they don’t think they will live long enough to get good value from an annuity, even though many would. In short, lots of people are making a financial mistake → Read More

Bank of England deputy governor urges people not to panic over household debts

A deputy Bank of England governor has sought to calm fears over rising UK household borrowing saying that claims that it is “unsustainable” are overblown. The TUC earlier this month warned that unsecured debt per person has hit a record high and claimed that borrowing is now at “crisis level”. → Read More