Philip Bunn and Jeremy Rowe
Rising inflation is eroding the spending power of UK households’ incomes. How will they react to that? The answer will make a big difference to the economic outlook. Will they dip into savings and carry on buying the same amount of goods and services, or will they just spend the same and be able to buy less with it? New survey evidence suggests that households intend to do a bit of both with nominal spending increasing by around half of the rise in prices but real consumption also falling. But not all households say they will respond in the same way: households with debts and limited savings to fall back on are less likely to be able to increase spending.
Lizzie Drapper and Hasdeep Sethi.
In 2006, 64 English houses in every 1000 changed hands. Three years and a credit crunch later, this had halved to only 32 transactions per 1000 houses. Since 2009, transactions have recovered, but remain well below their pre-crisis level (Chart 1). Transactions are a key metric of the health of the UK housing market and can be seen as a measure of “liquidity”. The reasons behind low transactions levels may also provide further insight into people’s behaviour and view of housing in the UK. In the work set out below, we conclude that it is unlikely that transactions regain their pre-crisis level any time soon, because of affordability constraints for first-time buyers and fewer discretionary moves by existing owners.
Philip Bunn and Alice Pugh
“UK prepares for pensions spending spree” “House prices set to soar by 30 per cent as savers raid pension funds” These were some of the headlines which followed the pension reforms announced by the UK government in the 2014 and 2015 Budgets. But how much truth do they contain? In contrast to some of the headlines, results from a household survey commissioned by the Bank suggest that greater pension freedom will have only a small impact on household spending. And – although a number households would like to invest funds withdrawn from their pension in property – only a subset of these are likely to be able to afford to do so, and some may have bought property even without the reforms.
Phil Bunn, Lizzie Drapper, Alice Pugh and Jeremy Rowe.
If the car you’re thinking of buying may be £500 cheaper in six months’ time, why not wait until then to buy it? This kind of thinking is one reason why falling prices trouble central bankers. The spectre of deflation is especially dangerous when households keep delaying their spending in expectation of further price falls. With the economy experiencing close to zero inflation, households may have adjusted their expectations of future prices. But how important are these expectations in influencing household spending? Using a rich household survey dataset we find that while there is some evidence that lower inflation expectations lead to lower spending, income expectations (reassuringly) also play an important role, and they have picked up recently.