When facts change, fiscal policy should change too

Plain-speaking Economics

Putin’s murderous assault on the people of Ukraine is a threat to peace and security worldwide. But someone also has to worry about the impact on the UK economy. The fallout should prompt a rethink of the response to the cost of living crisis and the tax hikes planned for April.

The catastrophe in Ukraine is potentially a game changer here, for two reasons. First, and most obviously, the increase in uncertainty adds to the downside risks to the recovery, particularly via the impact on energy prices.

This is still highly speculative. The prices of crude oil and natural gas soared after the invasion, but then fell back. Traders have been reassured that Western sanctions are targeting Russian banks and individuals, not energy suppliers.

In the meantime, the EU is continuing to buy large amounts of oil and gas from Russia – and the flow through Ukraine has actually increased…

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