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Deflation? It’s inflation you need to watch

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-- David Kuo is a director at the financial Web site The Motley Fool. The views expressed are his own. --

david-kuo_motley-foolWhat are consumers supposed to make of the latest inflation numbers? Do we have inflation, deflation or a bit of stagflation?

Truth is, it depends on who you are and what you do with your money. The Retail Prices Index or RPI tells us that prices today are exactly the same as they were a year ago. The Office for National Statistics reported that RPI was unchanged at 0%.

But be very careful when bandying around the term “prices”. The RPI includes elements of housing costs. So it is better to talk about the cost of living rather than prices. Prices have risen compared to a year ago, but the total cost of living as measured by RPI has fallen because of the disproportionately large drop in mortgage costs as a result of lower interest rates.

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