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Is the UK's inflation target fit for purpose?

Graham Watson

1st February 2024

Here is an excellent article in the Guardian with a Canadian academic, Louis-Philippe Rochon highlighting the arbitrary nature of the 2% inflation target. Remarkably, nearly 60 countries have adopted this as their inflation target, without there being a definitive position on why this is the case.

Of course, no-one denies that a lower target might risk deflation, and that's most probably a bad thing, but why 2%, and not 3 or 4%? This is particularly interesting in the present environment because the 2% target appears to have become a de facto default target, and the failure to hit the 'target' necessarily shapes monetary policy debates.

Equally, given the trade-off between inflation and unemployment, is there a risk that the pursuit of the 2% target imposes higher than necessary costs in terms of unemployment too.

The Bank of England has voted 6-3 to keep UK policy interest rates at a 16-year high of 5.25%. But rates may well start heading lower in the early summer if inflation falls back to target and settles there.

Graham Watson

Graham Watson has taught Economics for over twenty years. He contributes to tutor2u, reads voraciously and is interested in all aspects of Teaching and Learning.

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