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Oil and food price rises could force fiscal rethink

Rising oil and food prices are the biggest factors that could force the Government to deviate from its fiscal policy, according to the Office of Budget Responsibility.

Giving evidence at a Treasury select committee session this week, OBR member Stephen Nickell said: “The biggest risk to the inflation forecast is if oil prices and food prices keep rising faster than the average rate of inflation. If oil prices cont-inue to move up, then inflation will be higher in our forecast and under the assumption, which I think is reasonable, that wages do not adjust to this, then real wages will fall, consumption will fall and growth will be lower.

“That, in some sense, is the worst of all possible worlds because we have higher inflation and lower growth as a consequence of this, which mean the difficulties facing the MPC are of a very high order.”

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