Home > Inflation, Monetary Policy > Levels, Rates, and a Bump in the Road

Levels, Rates, and a Bump in the Road

The path of the UK CPI level was quite strange in 2011.  It jumped up between January and April, then went flat; jumped up again between July and September, then flattened off again.

This means that the CPI rate in 2012 will be hard to interpret.  Even if the CPI level followed a perfect log-linear path every month of 2012, up a 2% gradient, the annual CPI rate would bounce about because of the variation in the 2011 levels.

To illustrate this point, here is a graph showing how the CPI level moved through 2011, how it has moved so far in 2012, the MPC’s forecast from May, and also what a 2% rate would look like.

UK CPI Level

UK CPI Level

The July to September “ramp” in the 2011 CPI level was similar to what happened in the same period of 2008, but is otherwise an unsual pattern: the common factor in those years being an oil price spike.

Absent such a supply-side spike this year – or aggressive demand-side measures from the MPC, there might finally be a “downside surprise” on the inflation target.  As in “surprise, demand growth really is weak”.

Categories: Inflation, Monetary Policy
  1. July 19, 2012 at 17:28

    Britmouse, have you seen the IMF’s blog on the UK today? Ajay Chopra getting very agitated about the UK government ignoring the dire need for demand support. The Article IV report is similarly forthright. Do you think King and Gideon will take any notice?

  2. July 20, 2012 at 09:37

    Hi Frances, I saw that, yes. It’s good that they are calling for faster demand growth, but beyond that they seem to take a relatively conventional view. There is no call to ditch or raise the inflation target, for example – both of which would be incredibly simple demand stimulus.

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