Philip Bunn, David E. Altig, Lena Anayi, Jose Maria Barrero, Nicholas Bloom, Steven Davis, Brent Meyer, Emil Mihaylov, Paul Mizen, Gregory Thwaites, 16 November 2021

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a massive spike in uncertainty. This column uses data from panel surveys of US and UK business executives to document how uncertainty over own-firm sales growth rates over the year ahead roughly doubled in reaction to the shock. Firm-level uncertainty receded after spring 2020 but remains much higher than pre-COVID levels. The nature of this uncertainty has shifted greatly since the pandemic struck, from an enormous widening in perceived downside risk to a sharp increase in upside risk. Economic uncertainty associated with the pandemic has morphed from a tale of the lower tail into a tale about the upper tail.

Lena Anayi, Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Paul Mizen, Gregory Thwaites, Chris Young, 28 October 2021

Covid-19 has had a sizeable impact on where people work and how they shop. This column uses data from the Decision Maker Panel business survey of 3,000 UK firms to assess the longer-run impact. The pandemic is expected to increase hours worked from home and sales made online. Firms will invest less in land and buildings but more in IT and software. The pandemic is also expected to reduce medium-term employment and sales, with some shift away from large urban areas towards more rural areas.

Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Paul Mizen, Pawel Smietanka, Gregory Thwaites, 18 January 2021

The Covid-19 shock has had asymmetric effects across sectors of the economy, with those sectors that involve the most social contact in consumption bearing the brunt. This column uses data from the Decision Maker Panel business survey data to assess how the spread of Covid-19 and measures to contain it are likely to affect productivity. It estimates total factor productivity in the UK private sector is likely to be lower than it would have been, by up to 5% in 2020 Q4, falling back to a 1% reduction in the medium term. Firms anticipate a large reduction in ‘within-firm’ productivity, primarily because measures to contain Covid-19 are expected to increase intermediate costs. Since the pandemic disproportionally affected firms in low-productivity sectors, and the least productive firms within these sectors, these become a smaller part of the economy and therefore a positive ‘between-firm’ reallocation effect partially offsets the negative ‘within-firm’ effect.

Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, Gregory Thwaites, Pawel Smietanka, 20 May 2020

The spread of Covid‑19 and the measures to contain it are having a significant impact on many countries around the world. This column presents results from a survey of CFOs conducted in mid-April 2020, which show that businesses in the UK expected the spread of Covid-19 to reduce sales by just over 40%, relative to what would have otherwise happened. Large impacts on employment and investment were also expected. The impacts were expected to be concentrated in low productivity, low wage sectors. Failures in supply chains are likely to be a factor holding back output too. There was a further large increase in uncertainty in April.

Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, Pawel Smietanka, 27 March 2020

The spread of COVID-19 has created an important new source of concern for firms. This column reports the findings of the latest Decision Maker Panel survey of UK CFOs, which show that businesses expected the spread of the virus to have a large impact on their sales over the next year. The impacts on sales were expected to be material across all sectors, but businesses in accommodation and food, leisure and transport services expected to be most severely impacted. The survey also suggests that COVID-19 is now a more important source of uncertainty than Brexit for most UK businesses.

Nicholas Bloom, Philip Bunn, Scarlet Chen, Paul Mizen, Pawel Smietanka, 25 September 2019

The Decision Maker Panel, a monthly survey of CFOs from around 3,000 UK businesses, provides data on the uncertainty created by the Brexit process and the effect that is having on British businesses. This column summarises the latest results up until end August 2019, which reveal a broad-based rise in the proportion of respondents reporting that Brexit was one of their top three sources of uncertainty in recent months to close to the highest level since the EU referendum.  That uncertainty is also expected to be more persistent than previously thought.

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