Douglas McWilliams


Douglas McWilliamsDouglas McWilliams was the Mercers' School Memorial Professor of Commerce from 2012 to 2014. He is chief executive and founder of Cebr, one of the UK’s leading specialist economics consultancies. Professor McWilliams has had a career specialising in economic forecasting and analysis. He currently advises 25 of the FTSE companies, most of the UK’s top retailers, four out of the UK’s top ten legal firms and some of the leading firms of accountants, as well as being the economic adviser to the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW). He has received five awards for best forecaster for the UK in 2011. In addition to this, an analysis by CityWire has concluded that Cebr and the OECD have had the best forecasting track record over the past eight years, a period which, of course, includes the financial crisis. Professor McWilliams’ interest in international economics has led to his launching quarterly economic insight reports for ICAEW for the Middle East in early 2011, South East Asia in autumn 2011 and the first quarterly report for China in Beijing in March 2012. His career has focussed on making economics relevant to commerce, first with the Confederation of British Industry, then as Chief Economist for IBM UK. He then returned to the Confederation of British Industry as the Chief Economic Adviser which he followed by setting up his own economic consultancy, Cebr, in 1993. Cebr is now one of the most highly respected sources of business advice and research. Besides forecasting, his interests have ranged widely – from being the first to apply option pricing theory to the economics of safety, to new approaches to economic impact assessment for transport which have now been incorporated in the official Department for Transport guidance. He is also famed for his communication skills, and is one of the most regularly quoted of the leading economists.

Papers Published in World Economics:

Measuring the 'Flat White Economy'

The ‘Flat White Economy’ defined in the eponymous book is the combination of tech and creative economies that developed initially in the east of London and have since evolved into becoming a significant component of the UK’s GDP and that of other economies. Research undertaken by the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr) estimated that the sector had grown to 12% of the UK’s GDP in 2022, compared to around 9.2% for manufacturing. Measuring the value of services is difficult but measuring the output of creative and tech services, especially since the birth and expansion of the internet, creates additional problems which imply that current estimates of the size of the sector could be too low. There are four main measurement issues: the size, growth and lifecycle of the companies to be surveyed; the accounting treatment of investment in software; a flawed, out-of-date definition of R&D expenditure; and producing relevant price deflators while hindered by the difficulty in measuring quality.

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