Phew, that was close. UK inflation was 2.9 per cent in June, which was 0.1 percentage points less than expected and 0.2 percentage points less than feared, and some might say it was a relief.
If inflation had been 3.1 per cent, as some dreaded, then poor old Mark Carney, new in his job, would have been obliged to write a letter to the chancellor.
Even so, 2.9 per cent isn't very good. In fact it is the highest rate of inflation since April 2012.
So here is the dilemma. The Fed is slowly moving towards tightening monetary policy. If it does this, the pound may come under pressure. The Bank of England has made it clear that it is in no hurry to follow the Fed, but can the UK afford inflation of around 3 per cent, and then for the pound to fall?
Remember, between February 2013 and April 2013 total pay (including bonuses) rose by just 1.3 per cent year on year, which was much less than inflation.
If the pound falls, inflation will rise, and real wages will fall even further.
A cheap pound may help the UK’s long awaited export led recovery, but the UK also needs households’ real income to rise.
© Investment & Business News 2013