Economic Overview of 2022/23

Provided by Link Asset Services – 06 April 2023

UK.  Economy. Against a backdrop of stubborn inflationary pressures, the easing of Covid restrictions in most developed economies, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and a range of different UK Government policies, it is no surprise that UK interest rates have been volatile right across the curve, from Bank Rate through to 50-year gilt yields, for all of 2022/23.

Market commentators’ misplaced optimism around inflation has been the root cause of the rout in the bond markets with, for example, UK, EZ and US 10-year yields all rising by over 200bps in 2022.  The table below provides a snapshot of the conundrum facing central banks: inflation is elevated but labour markets are extra-ordinarily tight, making it an issue of fine judgment as to how far monetary policy needs to tighten.





Bank Rate





0.1%q/q Q4 (4.1%y/y)

+0.1%q/q Q4 (1.9%y/y)

2.6% Q4 Annualised


10.4%y/y (Feb)

6.9%y/y (Mar)

6.0%y/y (Feb)

Unemployment Rate

3.7% (Jan)

6.6% (Feb)

3.6% (Feb)

Q2 of 2022 saw UK GDP deliver growth of +0.1% q/q, but this was quickly reversed in the third quarter, albeit some of the fall in GDP can be placed at the foot of the extra Bank Holiday in the wake of the Queen’s passing.  Q4 GDP was positive at 0.1% q/q.  Most recently, January saw a 0.3% m/m increase in GDP as the number of strikes reduced compared to December. In addition, the resilience in activity at the end of 2022 was, in part, due to a 1.3% q/q rise in real household disposable incomes. A big part of that reflected the £5.7bn payments received by households from the government under the Energy Bills Support Scheme. 

Nevertheless, CPI inflation picked up to what should be a peak reading of 11.1% in October, although hopes for significant falls from this level will very much rest on the movements in the gas and electricity markets, as well as the supply-side factors impacting food prices.  On balance, most commentators expect the CPI measure of inflation to drop back towards 4% by the end of 2023.  As of February 2023, CPI was 10.4%.

The UK unemployment rate fell through 2022 to a 48-year low of 3.6%, and this despite a net migration increase of c500k.  The fact remains, however, that with many economic participants registered as long-term sick, the UK labour force shrunk by c500k in the year to June.  Without an increase in the labour force participation rate, it is hard to see how the UK economy will be able to grow its way to prosperity, and with average wage increases running at over 6% the MPC will be concerned that wage inflation will prove just as sticky as major supply-side shocks to food (up 18.3% y/y in February 2023) and energy that have endured since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on 22 February 2022.

Bank Rate increased steadily throughout 2022/23, starting at 0.75% and finishing at 4.25%. 

In the interim, following a Conservative Party leadership contest, Liz Truss became Prime Minister for a tumultuous seven weeks that ran through September and October.   Put simply, the markets did not like the unfunded tax-cutting and heavy spending policies put forward by her Chancellor, Kwasi Kwarteng, and their reign lasted barely seven weeks before being replaced by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt.  Their Autumn Statement of the 17th of November gave rise to a net £55bn fiscal tightening, although much of the “heavy lifting” has been left for the next Parliament to deliver.  However, the markets liked what they heard, and UK gilt yields have reversed the increases seen under the previous tenants of No10/11 Downing Street, although they remain elevated in line with developed economies generally.

As noted above, GDP has been tepid throughout 2022/23, although the most recent composite Purchasing Manager Indices for the UK, US, EZ and China have all surprised to the upside, registering survey scores just above 50 (below suggests economies are contracting, and above suggests expansion).  Whether that means a shallow recession, or worse, will be avoided is still unclear.  Ultimately, the MPC will want to see material evidence of a reduction in inflationary pressures and a loosening in labour markets.  Realistically, that is an unlikely outcome without unemployment rising and wage settlements falling from their current levels.  At present, the bigger rise in employment kept the ILO unemployment rate unchanged at 3.7% in January. Also, while the number of job vacancies fell for the ninth consecutive month in February, they remained around 40% above pre-pandemic levels.

Our economic analysts, Capital Economics, expect real GDP to contract by around 0.2% q/q in Q1 and forecast a recession this year involving a 1.0% peak-to-trough fall in real GDP.

The £ has remained resilient of late, recovering from a record low of $1.035, on the Monday following the Truss government’s “fiscal event”, to $1.23. Notwithstanding the £’s better run of late, 2023 is likely to see a housing correction of some magnitude as fixed-rate mortgages have moved above 4.5% and affordability has been squeezed despite proposed Stamp Duty cuts remaining in place.

As for equity markets, the FTSE 100 started 2023 strongly, rising to a record high of 8,014 on 20th February, as resilient data and falling inflation boosted earnings. But global equities fell sharply after concerns over the health of the global banking system emerged early in March. The fall in the FTSE 100 was bigger than the drop in the US S&P 500. Indeed, at around 7,600 now, the FTSE is 5.2% below its record high on 20th February, while the S&P 500 is only 1.9% lower over the same period. That’s despite UK banks having been less exposed and equity prices in the UK’s financial sector not falling as far. It may be due to the smaller decline in UK interest rate expectations and bond yields, which raise the discounted value of future earnings, compared to the US.

USA. The flurry of comments from Fed officials over recent months suggest there is still an underlying hawkish theme to their outlook for interest rates.  Markets are pricing in a further interest rate increases of 25-50bps, on top of the current interest rate range of 4.75% - 5%.

In addition, the Fed is expected to continue to run down its balance sheet once the on-going concerns about some elements of niche banking provision are in the rear-view mirror. 

As for inflation, it is currently at c6% but with the economy expected to weaken during 2023, and wage data already falling back, there is the prospect that should the economy slide into a recession of any kind there will be scope for rates to be cut at the backend of 2023 or shortly after.


EU. Although the Euro-zone inflation rate has fallen below 7%, the ECB will still be mindful that it has further work to do to dampen inflation expectations and it seems destined to raise rates to 4% in order to do so.  Like the UK, growth has remained more robust than anticipated but a recession in 2023 is still seen as likely by most commentators.