The Role of Energy in UK Inflation and Productivity

We model UK price and wage inflation, productivity and unemployment over a century and a half of data, selecting dynamics, relevant variables, non-linearities and location and trend shifts using indicator saturation estimation. The four congruent econometric equations highlight complex interacting empirical relations. The production function reveals a major role for energy inputs additional to capital and labour, and although the price inflation equation shows a small direct impact of energy prices, the substantial rise in oil and gas prices seen by mid-2022 contribute half of the increase in price inflation. We find empirical evidence for non-linear adjustments of real wages to inflation: a wage-price spiral kicks in when inflation exceeds about 6—8\% p.a. We also find an additional non-linear reaction to unemployment, consistent with involuntary unemployment. A reduction in energy availability simultaneously reduces output and exacerbates inflation.

This is joint work with Jennie Castle and Andrew Martinez