Inflationary expectations

The consumer prices index (CPI) is used by the government and the Bank of England for measuring the rate of inflation, and in the 12 months to March 2010 it rose by 3.4%. This figure was above the expected rate of 3.1% and well above the Bank of England’s target of 2%. The other major measure of consumer prices, the retail prices index (RPI) rose by even more – by 4.4%.

In order to recover from the recession, the UK economy needs to grow, but as demand begins to rise, this could put further upward pressure on inflation. There are a number of influencing factors that have caused the recent rise in inflation (see Too much of a push from costs but no pull from demand). Large rises in housing, fuel, transport, many household services and food were contributing factors. Many of these factors, however, are thought to be temporary, so it may not be too much of a problem.

And anyway, at least if inflation does continue to rise, it won’t be unexpected!


UK inflation rate rises to 3.4% BBC News (21/4/10)
A surprise? Definitely. A problem? Possibly. BBC News blogs, Stephanomics, Stephanie Flanders (20/4/10)
Transport costs push UK inflation above 3pc Telegraph, Edmund Conway (21/4/10)


Latest Inflation data National Statistics Online
Consumer Price Indices portal National Statistics Online
Consumer Price Indices, Statistical Bulletin Office for National Statistics
Consumer Price Indices, time series data National Statistics Online
Retail Prices Index: 1948–2010 National Statistics Online


  1. Why might the Monetary Policy Committee have to restrict growth to keep inflation manageable?
  2. What are some of the causes of rising inflation? Why are expectations so important?
  3. How is the CPI calculated to measure inflation?
  4. Normally, during a recession, we would expect economic growth to be poor, but inflation to be low and stable. How can we explain both poor growth and rising inflation?
  5. “Investors know that the UK government has more to gain from an unexpected bout of inflation than almost any other economy.” Why is this?