It’s always nice to have some good news on the economic front and today there was good news on inflation. The “favoured” CPI measure fell in June to 4.2%, having been expected to be 4.5%.

However, behind the headlines are some interesting facts. Weak retail sales have caused heavy discounting in some sectors; for example the price of video cameras fell, according to the BBC news today.

Whoa! Video cameras? I haven’t bought one of those for a few years; especially now that I have a smartphone that takes pictures, in common with about 75% of the population. Even back then, a video camera was hardly a regular and certainly not an essential purchase.

So how come video cameras apparently found their way into the “basket” of items on whose prices the politically-important inflation rates are calculated?

Answers on a postcard, please.


I read a letter in Metro yesterday that was so good I want to quote from it. It was from Julian Self of Buckinghamshire.


So the Association of Train Operating Companies reckons it will always offer “a range of fares to suit every pocket”, does it?

Given it (rail) is already massively subsidised by the public purse at a far higher level than the old, state-owned British Rail ever was, and that it has`raised fares above inflation ever since privatisation in the mid-1990s, I rather fancy I know whose pockets these fares are designed to suit. It certainly isn’t those who depend on trains to get them to their places of work.

It seems rail companies and successive governments have done their very best to reduce train overcrowding in peak hours … by making the entire rail experience as unpleasant and uncomfortable as possible.

… At a time when all public services are struggling to provide more for less, it seems these railwaymen (and I use the term in the same spirit as highwaymen) are intent on providing less for more.


Good man yourself, Julian Self. The overcrowding I can vouch for, as I am at present experiencing it a daily basis between Bristol, where I live, and Newport, where I am working for the next couple of weeks.

… and another thing: in case you don’t believe J. Self’s assertion that the subsidy is higher now than before rail was privatised in the UK, I have read the same claim in “The Economist”, a magazine whose grasp of facts I tend to trust.