Wordled: July 2009 CPI

Until the heady days of recession, inflation languished somewhere between steam engine piston rods and screensaver art in the top 10 least talked-about subjects ever.

Occasionally, an economics editor would drag himself out of inertia for long enough to mutter something about a quarter-point fall in CPI, before abandoning himself back to his boom-induced slumber.  Generally, the world of inflation was a sleepy one: floating along pleasantly, occasionally stopping altogether to take in the view.

Then the credit crunch hit - suddenly inflation was everywhere: Bank of England governor Mervyn King was writing letters to Alistair Darling. Pow! Retailers were all in a tizz over the potential for deflation. Zap! The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was in uproar, trying to decide whether or not to raise interest rates. Wham! Somehow, inflation had become undeniably trendy: it even had its own podcast.

With figures out on Tuesday revealing July's rate stuck at 1.8% for the second month in a row, it looks as though the excitement might finally be over. Green shoots are poking up everywhere, stock markets are settling down - egad, Japan has even managed to claw its way out of recession. It looks as though inflation might finally become boring again.

How to keep inflation sexy? By the power of Wordle, Smarta has the answer.

This month's big words:

Inflation (10 mentions)

The government's target for inflation stands at 2%, which means if it goes higher - or, indeed, lower - than that figure, Bank of England chairman Mervyn King has to write Chancellor Alistair Darling an explanatory letter. After months of above-average inflation, during which the figure rose to 5.2% - higher than it had been for 16 years - the UK's inflation rate finally fell below the hallowed figure during June, prompting pessimistic experts to fumble anxiously with their beards while mumbling about deflation.

CPI (10 mentions)

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) is used to measure inflation based on the estimated average prices of a 'shopping basket' of consumer goods and services, which ranges from food and tobacco to travel fares and household services. In 2009, the Office of National Statistics, which determines what goes into the shopping basket, added hardwood flooring and Blu-ray discs, and dropped tinned catfood in favour of the pouched variety, causing much head-shaking about the lamentable state of our throw-away society.

Year (9 mentions)

... and what a year it has been. Who would have dreamt BBC economics editor Robert Peston would actually become a sex icon? Or that interest rate decisions would become exciting? Or that the term 'quantitative easing' would be more than just a euphemism used to explain bankers' lofty expense claims? As financial markets collapsed and bankers' salaries were dragged through the media, something shifted - for some reason, economics has become bizarrely, inexplicably cool.

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