Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So... Er... Where's That Deflation?

Are you sure we just need to pump up the tyres?

The government and the Bank of England have spent the last six months telling us the country faces the mortal peril of deflation. Unless they slashed interest rates to the lowest levels ever, and cranked up the printing presses beyond the wildest dreams of Robert Mugabe, Britain would surely disappear into a vortex of plunging prices and mass starvation.

As regular BOM readers will know, we think they've got it dead wrong. We reckon they've now pumped in so much monetary stimulant, inflation is virtually certain to return as a major problem. They are taking us straight back to 70s style stagflation.

Today, the Bank published its latest Inflation Report. And guess what - even they no longer think we're facing deflation.

Here's their updated inflation "fan chart", summarising their main projection of future inflation:

As we can see, the Bank now envisages no serious risk of deflation. Apart from some slight chance of CPI inflation dipping briefly into negative territory later this year, it's higher prices throughout.

So what we'd like to know is WTF are they still running the presses at MAX?

Yes, we all know we're facing a pretty horrible decade. We have to recover from Brown's Bubble. We have to consume less, and pay down our debts. We have to start earning our living without all that froth in the financial and property sectors.

But these are painful structural adjustments we cannot avoid. The Bank's extreme monetary stimulus is not going to help. It may make us feel a little better in the short term, but only at the cost of worsening our longer-term problem. The 70s showed us only too clearly that we can have a stagnant economy right alongside roaring inflation - the worst of both worlds.

With the world and his wife now gabbling about those greenshoots, and even Money Box Live urging listeners to dribble themselves back into stocks, the Bank should certainly not be pumping yet more money into the system.

It should be reversing course.


Before it's too late.

PS No, sorry, I've finally snapped. Why does BBC R4 PM bother to have a business report? In case you've missed it, the report is called "Upshares Downshares", and is introduced by the theme music from - yes, that's right - Upstairs Downstairs. We then get four or five minutes of "comedy knockabout" between lovable Eddie Mair and Nils Blythe, the biz correspondent. It's lame, lame, lame. Sure, the BBC despises business - that's understood. But rather than subject their audience to this cringe-making amateur nite comedy slot, couldn't they just do another report on how man is destroying the planet, or how the arts needs more money, or how we're to blame for criminals, or... well, anything other than this.

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