Why inflation is the least of our worries just now Leave a comment


F

or the phalanx of City professionals paid to worry about inflation more than anything else on Earth today’s figures seemed striking.

In the real world the data is almost meaningless.

December inflation doubled from 0.3% to 0.6% because we bought some clothes while we still could and got a train home owing to a clear desire to kill grandma.

Does this one-month snapshot mean we can expect inflation to rocket from here? No.

Is the Bank of England going to put interest rates up in response? No. Are negative rates now off the table? No.

Forget the inflation index – the death index and the unemployment index are the real growth stories and both look like raging buys.

Economically, the big issue remains how many of us a) stay employed b) stay alive.

If we are out of work or dead, our spending prowess shall be curtailed.

If shops and pubs re-open but we are all in hospital there is unlikely to be a run on holidays and lager.

If we do get through mostly intact and embark on a mass spending spree, well the damage from inflation overshooting for a while is far lower than if we get in a post-COVID deflationary funk.

 So, if the economy temporarily overheats after the biggest recession in 300 years that feels like a nice problem to have.

We should long for the peaceful days when inflation of 0.6% is a genuine concern. Perhaps at the end of 2021 it will be.

We’ll throw a party to celebrate inflation being top of the list of things we worry about. We might even invite some City economists.



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