As expected, the Autumn Statement produced a new independent official forecast for the economy. The OBR expects growth to be faster, and extra borrowing lower as a result. By 2018-19 the government aims to be repaying debt.
The forecast also anticipates a substantial increase in new housing, with modest house prices rises peaking at 7% in 2015-16. Real house prices remain below the 2007-8 high throughout the next five years.
Public spending continues to go up in cash terms, though at a slower pace than before. Next year the government aims to spend £12.7bn more , after a £15.9bn increase this year in adjusted Total Managed Expenditure. Net additional borrowing falls from £111 bn this year to £96bn next year.
Savers will be pleased to know the official forecaster expects short term and longer term interest rates to rise steadily over the next five years. They pencil in 4.2% on average gilt stocks and 3.1 % for short rates by 2018-19. They foresee share prices rising gradually every year, consumer spending to rise, and commercial property prices to rise gently as well. Real incomes start growing again from 2014.
They are likely to be right about the direction of travel for the next couple of years. Their 2010 forecast was far too optimstic whilst their Budget 2013 forecast was far too pessimistic. Maybe this one will be nearer the truth.
I would be surprised if things turned out as steadily as they expect after 2015. Normally adjustments take place more rapidly than officials recognise. Interest rates on government debt have already risen more quickly than official forecasts anticipated.
The individual decisions in the Auutmn Statement did not make much difference to the figures. The big changes have occurred thanks to faster growth, bringing down the likely extra debt burden substantially. By 2017-18 debt is estimated to be £80 bn lower than in the March 2013 forecast.