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Macro Research

Fathom Consulting specialises in macro research – we focus on the relationship between the macro economy and financial markets. Where others see a clear distinction, we see the two as inextricably linked.

Fathom’s advice is centred around this relationship between the macro economy and the financial markets, so that we can help our clients understand how their individual industry and/or sector fits into the bigger picture. We use this as the basis for sound investment and asset allocation advice. We take on macroeconomic consultancy projects looking at a broad range of regions such as the UK and China, and zoning in on a wide variety of sectors including pensions, property, aerospace and healthcare.

PENSIONS
We provide our clients with clear, independent pensions advice informed by our expertise in economics and financial markets and by our understanding of the funding challenges facing pension schemes. We advise government, pensions industry bodies, trustee boards, scheme sponsors and their advisors from an economic rather than an actuarial perspective. Clients include the BT Pension Scheme, BBC Pension Scheme, and a number of Local Authority Pension Schemes.

Independent pensions advice

Our wider research focuses on the intersection between economics and financial markets – themes that are highly relevant to this industry. Major research projects specifically focusing on the pensions include:

  • Providing a flexible model of the assets and liabilities of a typical defined benefit pension fund, for the Association of British Insurers (ABI). Assessing the potential benefits accruing to defined benefit pension schemes from diversification away from publicly traded equities and towards other asset classes.
  • Replicating, for the then Official Opposition, the model of the state pension system that was contained in the Turner Report (which ended up recommending various changes to male and female retirement ages, and to indexation).
  • A series of papers, co-published with the Pension Insurance Corporation (PIC), including What next for UK pension funds: Yield normalisation, or Financial Repression and ‘Who carries the risk?
  • See us in action – watch our Pensions Roundtable. Fathom and Pensions Insurance Corporation discuss the co-published second report: ‘Who carries the risk?’
  • Andrew Brigden, Chief Economist, Fathom Consulting, delivered a presentation with Mark Gull, Co Head of Asset Liability Management, PIC, at the NAPF Investment Conference 2015. The presentation was titled: ‘DB Strategies: The Pensions Landscape 2030’, based on the findings of Fathom’s second paper for PIC.

“Fathom’s advice has helped move Newham’s Investment and Accounts Committee to a new level. It has helped us to understand how the prospects and risks for the global economy affect the funding position of our DB pension scheme. They condense sophisticated economic and financial market modelling and analysis into clear recommendations in plain English – and are always accessible and responsive when we need them to be.They provide rigorous, objective analysis – independent advice that you can trust.”Roy Nolan, Newham Council

What next for UK pension funds_PIC Independent pensions adviceWho carries the risk_PIC Independent pensions advice

To find out more about our independent pensions advice services, please Submit Enquiry.

PROPERTY

We have a detailed knowledge of the UK property market and offer consultancy services, research and property price forecasting supported by our UK and Prime Central London (PCL) housing models. Informed by our models, we were at the forefront of warning that the Help to Buy Scheme could have dangerous implications for the housing market and, by extension, the wider UK economy.

Property price forecasting

UK Housing Model

Our structural model of the UK housing market was developed by our team of analysts. It captures the interaction between rents, prices and the supply of housing – and shows how each of those is influenced by changes in income, interest rates, planning restrictions and the supply of mortgages. The core model can be adapted to suit the needs of individual clients – for example, to incorporate house prices across the regions, cities, or even down to individual postcodes.

Prime Central London (PCL) Model

We were commissioned by Development Securities PLC, a long-standing client, to investigate the out-performance of the PCL residential market, to consider whether valuations were justified, and if so, what the major risks might be. A key output of the project was a bespoke analytical tool that allows the client to construct their own projections for PCL property prices by changing the assumptions about key economic drivers to create alternative scenarios. Our first report ‘Prime Central London: In a class of its own?’ was published in May 2012, with a second report following in July 2013.

Our models are available as part of our property consultancy services, Submit Enquiry.

UK
We offer a comprehensive understanding of the UK economy and its financial markets. Our team of consultants has a combined experience of UK economic analysis unrivalled by any other private sector institution.

UK economic analysis

We were among the first to diagnose the structural nature of the UK recession and have since correctly anticipated the long-drawn-out nature of the recovery. We have a reputation for original, accurate and insightful analysis, and our track record means you can plan with more confidence.

The UK service is built around our UK macroeconomic model, covering about 200 variables on a quarterly basis including a detailed representation of the household, government, corporate and banking sectors. The interactions between the UK and the rest of the world are clearly defined within the framework of our Global Economic Strategic Allocation Model (GESAM) – both through trade linkages and financial market linkages.

Taking the lead from policymakers, our projections all come in the form of fan charts, explicitly accounting for a range of uncertainty around a central estimate.

UK rates

UK Service / Monetary Policy Forum

Our roots lie in the Bank of England (BoE). UK Service clients are invited to our quarterly Monetary Policy Forum (MPF) where Fathom Consulting and former BoE Monetary Policy Committee members discuss our latest forecast for the UK economy ahead of the inflation report. Clients are also invited to our ad-hoc MPF Roundtables, chaired by VIP guest speakers. UK Service clients also receive our regular research newsletters.

More about the MPF. For further information about our UK Service, Submit Enquiry.

CHINA
Fathom produces a short-term and medium-term China economic outlook, encompassing:

  • Growth composition – demand and supply balance, implications for growth and fiscal outlook.
  • Outlook for productivity catch-up, in particular TFP.
  • Banking sector (main and shadow) – sources of fragility and risk as well as support.
  • Short- to medium-term outlook under different policy assumptions.
  • Scenarios for long-run growth that see imbalances (internal and external) unwind in a benign (consumer-oriented) or malign (global deflationary) way.
  • Interaction between China and the US, capturing the external imbalances built up through the export of savings from China.
  • Interaction between the demand and supply – deflationary risks from excess capacity build-up.

China economic outlook

China NPLs as a proportion of GDP - China economic outlookTotal factor productivity as a proportion of US TFP - China economic outlook

China Momentum Indicator (CMI)

This is the newest addition to our proprietary suite of indicators, developed because China’s Premier Li Keqiang has little faith in the country’s official GDP figures and prefers instead to look at electricity consumption, rail freight volumes and credit growth. In response, we constructed our CMI using these variables, and estimating the appropriate weights and seasonal factors. The CMI helps to inform our China economic outlook.

CMI chart - China economic outlook

China Models

  • Fiscal Model – tracking and projecting the monthly fiscal accounts in China, broken down by expenditure and revenue, and showing how the budget position is highly geared to the growth prospects of the developed world.
  • Long-Run Supply-Side Growth Model – dual economy (agricultural and non-agricultural) with different production technologies, mapping the migration from rural to urban, and the impact on productive potential of different paths for fixed capital formation and TFP. What would it take for China to overtake the US, per capita?
  • Long-Run Demand-Side Model – identifying the shifts in the composition of demand that would be necessary to mop up the productive capacity already in place, under different assumptions about global growth.

We use our models to support our consultancy services on China, for details Submit Enquiry.

AEROSPACE
The aim is to help industry understand the macroeconomic environment in which they are operating, and help government understand the role of aerospace within that broader picture.

In a recent study commissioned by the Aerospace Technology Institute, we assessed the potential productivity benefits that aerospace contributes to the UK economy, through investment and innovation, both within and outside the aerospace sector. In aerospace, as elsewhere, our expertise is in understanding the interaction between the macroeconomy and that particular sector.

You can download the Executive Summary of the ATI’s independently commissioned report by Fathom Consulting here: ‘How Government can make a difference – assessing the potential impact on the UK economy of investing in UK Aerospace Technology, through the ATI’.

Read Erik Britton’s Opinion Editorial here: A business plan for the UK that could fly’. Please contact [email protected] for more information.

HEALTHCARE
Our macro perspective can be readily applied to the healthcare property sector. In a recent research paper commissioned by Octopus investments, we looked at factors which could impact healthcare sector property market pricing and we determined the likelihood of new investors entering the market.

Fathom’s expertise lies in understanding the interaction between macroeconomic drivers and any given sector.

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