Does greater profitability increase economic welfare?

To what extent does an increase in profit lead to an increase in economic welfare? In summary. Higher profit enables firms to invest in more research and development, leading to better products in the long-term. Higher profit also acts as a signal to other entrepreneurs to increase investment in that industry. However, others are concerned …

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Can Inflation Cause a Recession?

cost-push-inflation-2018-actual-cpi

Readers Question: Can inflation cause a recession? Inflation is not the main cause of recessions. Usually, recessions are caused by factors such as high-interest rates, fall in confidence, fall in bank lending and decline in investment. However, it is possible that cost-push inflation can contribute to a recession, especially if inflation is above nominal wage …

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To what extent is economic activity cyclical?

boom-bust

The economic cycle plays an important role in macroeconomics. Typically every 8-10 years, there is a recession (fall in output) or at least an economic downturn. Recessions tend to last for between six months and up to 2 or 3 years. But, even the deepest recession tends to end and the economy returns to a …

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Common Mistakes in Economics

misery-index

Some potentially common mistakes in economics. 1. Confusion of rates of change and actual levels What happened to the UK price level between May 2011 and Feb 2015? The answer is that prices rose at a slower rate. There was a fall in the inflation rate. Prices were still rising just at a lower rate. …

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UK Labour Productivity

Labour productivity measures the output per worker in a period of time. Labour productivity is an important factor in determining the long-run trend rate of economic growth; tax revenues, inflation and real wages. Since the start of the great recession in early 2008, UK labour productivity growth has remained very low – well below the …

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The gift economy

gift-economy

The gift economy refers to economic activity characterised by offering services and goods to other members of the community without the expectation of monetary reward. Giving things to other people may be based on pure altruism, a wish to gain status in society, the hope of reciprocal gifts in the future or out of a …

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UK Inflation Rate and Graphs

UK cpi-inflation-89-19

Current UK Inflation Rate

  • CPI inflation rate:  1.5% (headline rate) CPI – D7G7 at ONS
  • (page updated 18 Dec 2019)

UK-cpi-inflation-2007-19

Other measures of inflation

  • (CPIH) CPI including owner occupiers’ housing costs – 1.5% (CPIH – L550)
  • RPI – 2.2% (Dec 2019)
  • See: Measures of inflation

Cost-push inflationary factors

In 2017, the UK saw a rise in cost-push inflationary pressures. This caused a spike in inflation, despite relatively weak economic growth. Cost-push inflationary factors have come from:

  • Devaluation in Sterling. This makes imports more expensive and has fed through into higher input prices for manufacturers.
  • Rise in petrol prices in the early part of 2017.
  • Rise in food and recreational goods.

In 2018/19, these cost-push factors have fallen away and weak economic growth has kept inflation below target.

Reasons for low inflation in the UK

  • Low worldwide inflationary expectations. Europe is experiencing very low rates of inflation.
  • Fall in global inflation rates since 2007.
  • Supermarket price wars, with big chains, such as Tesco and Sainsbury attempting to maintain market share from Pound Shops and discounters like Lidl.
  • Weaker commodity price growth.
  • Fiscal austerity – many government departments still seeing spending squeezed. In particular public sector pay restraint of recent years has reduced real wages for public sector workers.
  • Private sector wage growth is still weak. This has limited costs of firms and limited growth in aggregate demand.
  • A potential negative output gap, with real GDP still around 10-15% below pre-crisis trend rate.

Inflation trends in the UK

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Despite temporary cost-push inflationary factors in 2017, underlying inflationary pressures remain muted – at least compared to the past four decades.

The current UK inflation rate compares favourably to much of the post-war period.

1970s Inflation

The 1970s frequently saw double-digit inflation. This was due

  • Cost-push factors – rapid rise in oil prices
  • Rising wages due to powerful trade unions trying to keep up with living costs.
  • Lack of independent monetary policy
  • Inflation expectations rose

Late 1980s inflation

The inflation of the late 1980s was due to

  • Rapid economic growth ‘The Lawson Boom‘ – growth was above the trend rate causing supply shortages
  • Rise in house prices fuelling wealth effect
  • Lack of independent monetary policy. Policy was partly set by ‘shadowing the D-Mark’ which led to loose monetary policy in late 1980s

Inflation and wages

  • Real wages = nominal wages – inflation.
  • Usually, during a period of economic growth – wage growth is higher than inflation, this leads to positive real wage growth.
  • During the economic recession of 2009-13 – we had a prolonged period of negative real wage growth. Wages rising at a slower rate than inflation.
  • The end of 2014 saw the first signs of renewed wage growth and positive real wage growth.

UK inflation-wages-2006-19

In 2017/18, the trend of negative real wage growth resumed.

However, since 2018, wages have started to creep up whilst inflation has fallen.

See more at UK wage growth

Inflation since 1990

UK cpi-inflation-89-19

  • Inflation rose over 8% in the late 1980s due to the Lawson boom, which was a period of unsustainable economic growth.
  • Inflation was low in the period 1992 to 2007. This was a period known as the ‘great moderation’
  • The inflation of 2008 and 2012 was due to cost-push factors (devaluation and rising commodity prices)

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Policies to reduce smoking

inelastic-demand-tax-shift-supply

Smoking causes an increased risk of cancer to both those who smoke and also to third party’s who breathe in other people’s smoke. It is a classic example of a demerit good. To reduce smoking rates, the government can choose policies from Higher tax Raising legal minimum age Restrictions on smoking in public places Subsidies …

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