Sunday, 7 November 2010

Inflation

Everyone is discussing whether central banks' policies (low interest rates, quantitative easing) will increase inflation. At the moment headline inflation rates are low, so the inflation doves are winning the argument.

Before the crisis, there was a similar argument. Then optimists pointed to low headline inflation rates to show that we couldn't be in a bubble. But house prices aren't included in headline inflation. There was massive inflation there. Could the same thing be happening now? Obviously the house price bubble has not yet come back, but central bank policy could be sustaining prices at higher levels than they would otherwise be, and laying the foundations for another asset-price boom.

More generally, could it be that low interest rates act as a transfer to the mortgage-owning median voter?

Just asking, because my ignorance of macroeconomics is profound.