Wednesday, 17 December 2014

We're getting richer (or maybe poorer)

Yes, we really are getting richer. Yesterday the ONS published their CPI number and it was 1.0%. Today we have the earnings growth for the year and it's 1.4% - so we are on average 0.4% richer on the year.

Only a curmudgeon would point out that the RPI number was 2.0% so against that metric we're actually 0.6% poorer on the year.

In  practice everyone's  personal inflation number is going to be different so whether you are richer or poorer is down to you. But it's unusual for either of the big inflation numbers to be below earnings growth so some cause for note, if not actual celebration.

The underlying cause for inflation being down is the Saudis still trying to bankrupt the American shale oil producers. Oil is down to $60 per barrel today. This is causing pain in the oil exporting nations, especially Russia, Venezuela and Brazil but for importers it's free money (kind of) and for the last ten years the UK has been a net importing nation - not generally considered a good thing but it's working for us at the moment.

The Chinese economy is also cooling down and this is stopping them buying up stuff we want, like food. So our food inflation rate is also reduced. It's win-win at the moment.

If you're determined to find a fly in the ointment then it's worth noting that UK house price inflation is 10% on the year - and that's an average of much higher numbers in London and South East and flat or falling numbers elsewhere in the UK. London/SE prices are being driven up by expat Chinese and Russians buying up our housing stock - and quite often keeping the houses empty so not helping our housing shortage at all. This needs to be sorted out, we cannot have foreigners buying up the country.

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