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Development of a Stock-flow Consistent UK Macroeconomic Model for Policy Analysis


This work, which formed part of the macro component of the UK~IRC Business Services project, follows in the tradition of stock-flow modelling pioneered by the late Professor Wynne Godley. The research is not publicly funded. The modelling is used to inform strategic macroeconomic policy analysis of the UK economy. The work also provides a top-down perspective relevant and complementary to research on the balance of payments, led by Ken Coutts and Bob Rowthorn as part of the Services project. The project has produced numerous outputs since 2007 (see our Annual Reports section for details).

Macro-Economic Forecasting and Policy Analysis for the UK Economy

The project involves a team based at the CBR and at the Ulster University Economic Development Centre (UUEPC) in Belfast. The CBR team consists of Ken Coutts, Graham Gudgin and a PhD student Saite Lu based in development studies and Sydney Sussex College. Colleagues at UUEPC are Professor Neil Gibson and Jordan Buchanan. Dr Cam Bowie (no affiliation) is also member of the team with special reference to financial forecasting. Work during the year August 2016 until July 2017 consisted of three main strands:

  1. Maintenance and updating of the CBR macro-economic model of the UK economy (UKMOD). Two rounds of data revision have been completed largely by our colleagues at Ulster University. These were an Autumn 2016 update incorporating the 2015 National Accounts Blue Book data revisions, and a Spring 2017 Provisional Update of 2016 data based on ONS Quarterly estimates and other revised data. Both are major exercises which keep the data-bases relevant for the most up to date forecast and scenario work. With the revised data, a process of equation revision also took place, as part of a fairly continuous process of model improvement. The UK macro-economic forecasts for 2016 were compared against the 2016 outturn data and also compared with the forecasts on the H M Treasury list of UK Forecasts. Although direct comparisons were not possible with the other UK forecasts which were quarterly (ours are annual), the CBR forecasts published in December 2015 were close to being the most accurate of the 38 reported. We have not published a forecast report in 2017. The uncertainties caused by the Brexit Referendum result mean that short-term forecasts are dominated by somewhat arbitrary assumptions around the impact of Brexit-related uncertainty on business investment and household consumption. We are currently working on an Autumn 2017 forecast report. While Brexit-related uncertainties remain important, there is now a year’s post-referendum data to guide us what the economic impact of the uncertainties are likely to be. 

  2. Planned work to incorporate the Coutts-Rowthorn UK balance of payments model into the CBR macro-economic model (UKMOD). This will extend and improve the trade section of UKMOD by adding disaggregated export and import flows and allowing a sectoral breakdown of GDP and employment in the model between manufacturing and services. It is intended to take the trade disaggregation further by distinguishing EU and non-EU markets for imports and exports. This work has been delayed from last year due to the gravity-model research reported below. In the context of Brexit, the work is more important than ever and we plan to return to it in the Autumn. Work has proceeded on the major extension of the CBR model to include a financial module (FINMOD) with a range of assets and liabilities for each sector. When completed this will make the model into a full-developed stock-flow consistent system along the lines laid out in Godley and Lavoie’s ‘Monetary Economics’. Assisted by Dr Cam Bowie, we have constructed an outline accounting model and a database of financial assets and liabilities. Initial work has begun to insert a set of behavioural equations into the FINMOD system.

  3. A major strand of modelling work involved the construction of a trade database and associated gravity models to estimate the economic impact of the UK leaving the EU Single market and Customs Union in 2019. The work was initiated due to the need to include into UKMOD forecasts an estimate of the long-term impact on trade of leaving the EU. Since we found the published estimates by HM treasury, OECD, IMF and others to be implausible we set out to replicate their gravity model work for trade in goods. This was a major undertaking, involving almost a million data-points on trade plus associated data on GDP etc. The trade data covered 120 countries with annual data for 1948-2016. The gravity model research replicated the Treasury and OECD work, using the entire trade dataset, but also estimated models for subsets of data focusing on the countries of most relevance to UK trade. The key finding was that all of the official studies, except the IMF, used an estimate for the impact of EU membership on goods trade between EU member states which was an average across all 28 EU members. The CBR research found that the impact for the UK exports alone was much smaller than this average. This finding has major implications for beliefs about the economic impact of Brexit and for the UK negotiating strategy in the ongoing Brexit negotiations.

Journal articles

Gudgin, G. Coutts, K. Gibson, N and Buchanan, J. (2017) ‘The macro-economic impact of Brexit: using the CBR macro-economic model of the UK economy (UKMOD)’ Journal of Self-Governance and Management Economics, forthcoming, 2017.

Gudgin, G., Coutts, K., Gibson, N., Buchanan, J. (2017) ‘Defying gravity: a critique of estimates of the economic impact of Brexit’ Policy Exchange, June 2017.

Coutts K. and Rowthorn R. (2013) 'The UK balance of payments. Structure and Prospects' Oxford Review of Economic Policy, 29: 307-325. 

Martin, B., and R. Rowthorn (2013) 'Can Intangible Investment Explain the UK Productivity Puzzle? A Response and Comment' National Institute Economic Review, 226: R42-R49. 

Martin, B. and R. Rowthorn (2013) 'A rejoinder to Goodridge, Haskel and Wallis' National Institute Economic Review, 226: R54.

Book chapters

Gudgin, G. and Coutts, K. (2014) ‘Should the UK continue to follow liberal economic policies?’, in J. Green and C. Hay (eds.) The British Growth Crisis (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming). 

Special reports

Coutts, K and Gudgin, G. The Macroeconomic Impact of Liberal Economic Policies in the UK, CBR Special Report April 2015

Martin, B. and Rowthorn, R. (2012) Is the British economy supply constrained II? A renewed critique of productivity pessimism, CBR and UK~IRC, May.

Martin, B. (2011) Is the British economy supply constrained? A critique of productivity pessimism, CBR and UK~IRC, July.

Martin, B. (2010) Rebalancing the British Economy: A strategic assessment, Centre for Business Research and UK~IRC, Cambridge and London, April.

Working papers

Gudgin, G. Coutts, K. and Gibson, N. (December 2016), 'The macroeconomic impact of Brexit: using the CBR macroeconomic model of the UK Economy', Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Working Paper No. 483.

Gudgin, G. Coutts, K. Gibson, N and Buchanan, J. (May 2017), 'The Role of Gravity Models in Estimating the Economic Impact of Brexit', Centre for Business Research, University of Cambridge, Working Paper No. 490.

Coutts, K. and Gudgin, G. (23015) ‘The CBR Macro-Economic Model of the UK Economy (UKMOD)’ 

Gudgin, G., Coutts, K., Gibson, N. (Ulster University), and Buchanan, J. (Ulster University).Centre for Business Research: UK Economy Forecast Report. Autumn 2015. CBR Special Report (November 2015).  

Gudgin, G. The UK macro-economy database was extended and updated in line with the 2014 Blue Book. In conjunction with Neil Gibson and Jordan Buchanan at the Ulster University Economic Development Centre software was created to manage changes in national accounts data, associated re-estimation of equations and other management tasks connected with the UK macro-economy dataset and the UKMOD model. 

Coutts, K. and Rowthorn, R. (2013) ‘De-Industrialisation and the balance of payments in advanced economies’ Foresight Future of Manufacturing Project, Evidence Paper 31, London: BIS. 

Coutts, K. and Rowthorn, R. (2013) ‘Update of prospects for the UK balance of payments’, Foresight Future of Manufacturing Project, Evidence Paper 30, London: BIS 

Coutts, K. and Rowthorn, R. (2013) ‘Re-industrialisation – a commentary’, Foresight Future of Manufacturing Project, Evidence Paper 32, London: BIS. 

Conference/Workshop papers

Gudgin, G. Conference on Legal and Economic Impact of Brexit, Peterhouse College, Cambridge. Paper on 'Economic Impact of Brexit', 30 March 2017.

Gudgin, G. University of Buckingham Conference on the Impact of Brexit. Paper on 'Economic Impact of Brexit', 26 June 2017.

Gudgin, G. Clash of the Titans conference, 'Short-term Forecasts for the UK economy in the context of Brexit', Royal Institution London, February 2017

Gudgin, G. ‘Not the OBR A Macro-economic Policy Model of the UK Economy with insights from Godley & Lavoie’, with Ken Coutts Post Keynesian Economics Study Group Annual Conference, Greenwich University, June 2016.

Gudgin, G. ‘A Macro-Economic Policy Model of the UK Economy. A Brexit scenario’, with Ken Coutts. Seminar paper given at Kingston University Department of Economics Seminar Series, October 2016. 

Gudgin, G and Gibson, N. gave a workshop on the UK macro-economic model at the Ulster University June 8th 2015. This was attended by civil servants and business representatives in Northern Ireland. 

Gudgin, G. Cambridgeshire County Council, East of England Forecasting Model Spring 2014 Forecasts and Dwellings Targets Scenario. This project organised by Oxford Economics Ltd provided forecasts, scenarios and advice for local authorities in the East of England co-ordinated by CCC. 

Gudgin, G. Workshop on better use of evidence for policy-making – EU Commission Brussels, 15/16 May 2014 

Gudgin, G. The Causes and Consequences of the Long Expansion 1992-2007. Clare College, Cambridge 19/20 September. 2013 


Gudgin, G. Two complete updates of the macro-economic datasets for the CBR Macro-economic model of the UK Economy. Work largely undertaken by colleagues at Ulster University (Prof Neil Gibson and Jordan Buchanan). The UKMOD database is now compliant with the 2016 ONS National Accounts Blue Book, with further data for 2016 using ONS quarterly statistics. 

Gudgin, G. New large scale trade dataset compiled by Prof Neil Gibson and Jordan Buchanan to facilitate research on gravity models. Innovative software written by Prof Gibson allowed partial datasets to be constructed for specified dates, giving considerable flexibility. 

Other publications

Martin, B. (2013) 'Capital Investment: what are the main long-term trends in relation to UK manufacturing businesses, and how do these compare internationally?' Foresight Project: The Future of Manufacturing Evidence Paper 8, Department for Business, Innovation & Skills, April, 2013.    

Martin, B. and Rowthorn, R. (2013) 'Can Intangible Investment Explain the UK Productivity Puzzle? A Response and Comment', CBR note, July.

Media coverage

Gudgin, G. Sunday Telegraph, Simon Heffer, "Impact of Brexit".

Gudgin, G. London Evening Standard, Anthony Hilton, "Economic Impact of Brexit". 

Markou, C. The Independent, (Several occasions).

Gudgin, G. Coverage received on launch of Liberal Markets report in the Observer and Guardian newspapers. 

Gudgin, G. Took part in 30 minute discussion on Share radio, London, 14 September on Liberal markets Report.

MPhil students supervised

Gudgin, G. supervised Saite Lu (Sydney Sussex College) financial Modelling in a Stock-Flow Equilibrium Context

Project team

Ken Coutts
Graham Gudgin
Bob Rowthorn
Neil Gibson (Ulster)

Project status