Category Archives: Finance

What are the real inflation rates?

inflationI was having a discussion with my Dad about inflation rates the other day. He gave an apparently arbitrary figure – 6% – as the benchmark for inflation rates. Checking in on the official consumer price index inflation rates in the UK – calculated by checking the average price increases of a list of 600 commonly purchased household items – has only put the rates beyond 4% a few times in the last 10 years or so.

I then discovered Shadowstats – an ‘alternative’ set of estimates:

The SGS Alternative CPI-U measures are attempts at adjusting reported CPI-U inflation for the impact of methodological change of recent decades designed to move the concept of the CPI away from being a measure of the cost of living needed to maintain a constant standard of living.

They seem to be somewhat on the doomsayer side of things and, well, total economic doom hasn’t quite hit yet (they predicted hyperinflation would start in "the next couple of months" in December). They do have a point, though, in that many items not in the typical consumer price index have become expensive at a far greater rate than inflation – amongst them housing and (apparently) public school education. Now, not everyone needs the latter, but the former, arguably, is probably the single most essential item you could have in your proverbial basket.

So I don’t know quite what to believe. Adding one or two percent to the official estimates on inflation rates doesn’t feel quite so pessimistic when you read the SGS Alternative CPI-U, which puts it at 3-4x the reported rates of inflation.

Wine and capital gains tax

Wine bottlesI was chatting to a friend the other day who mentioned wine investment as a thing he’d looked into – free from capital gains and income tax as its classed as a “wasting asset”, and is on the rise due to huge interest from China (apparently) in fashionable vintages. Specific tax info here:

As well as not being liable to either income tax or capital gains tax, inheritance tax is only paid on the value of the original purchase price.

Private individual

As long as wine is held in the name of a private individual, who is not a wine dealer or trader, under current UK taxation rules, the Inland Revenue does not consider that holding a fine wine stock generates an income.

Capital gains status

Wines are also not subject to capital gains tax as the Inland Revenue considers them to be a “wasting asset”. Once again, the wine must be held by a private individual not connected to the wine trade and the definition of a “wasting asset” is an asset that’s useful life is not likely to exceed 50 years.

The choices in his case are made by investment advisers who know what they’re doing but the wine is held in your name – providing the tax relief. You could even hold the wine in your house, if you trusted yourself not to fall victim to temptation and drink the expensive vintages.

Interesting, although I feel morally dubious about it, as I do about all ‘luxury’ market items. But I guess, that’s the joy of capitalism.

Anyone doing this? Interested in perspectives.