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Economists’ Inflation Wager: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 | 11:34 AM ET
Lane Oatey | Getty Images

It's a debate that has played out countless times on CNBC. An inflation hawk argues that central bank money printing will end badly with hyperinflation; the dove pours cold water on the thesis, pointing out that there is still plenty of slack in developed world economies.

Now two economists have decided to put their money where their mouth is. Andrew Lilico, an economist with Europe Economist, has bet with Jonathan Portes, the director of the U.K.'s National Institute of Economic and Social Research (NIESR), that if U.K. gross domestic product growth (GDP) rises above 2 percent, inflation will jump above 5 percent.

If he loses, he'll have to cough up 1,000 pounds ($1,520), at 2012 prices (this is an inflation bet after all).

Here's how Portes explained the bet on his blog: "So, for example, if GDP in the four quarters to the end of 2013 is more than 2 percent higher than GDP in the four quarters to the end of 2012, then Andrew's prediction is that the CPI will rise more than 5 percent at some point before the end of the second quarter of 2015."

"I disagree with Andrew; I think the UK has plenty of spare capacity, and is quite capable of sustaining a period of growth above the historical trend (about 2 percent) without a sharp rise in inflation," Portes wrote in the blog post.

The wager comes after the U.K. reported weaker than expected inflation for April. Consumer prices eased to 2.4 percent from 2.8 percent in March, the slowest rate of inflation since September 2012. GDP growth has been weak in the U.K., with growth of just 0.3 percent in the first quarter, despite a 375 billion pound ($570 billion) quantitative easing program by the Bank of England. On the other hand, inflation has consistently been above the Bank of England's 2 percent target, though it now seems to be easing.

Here's how the bet was sealed on twitter:

Contact Europe: Economy

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