From Penk’s Pen

Chris Penk - MP

We live in an age dominated by numbers. Over the last couple of months, as a nation we have been obsessively watching the number of COVID-19 cases, the number of ICU beds available, the number of vaccinations and so on.
Impacts of some numbers are very clear but others are much less so, requiring extra analysis or even soul-searching.
In the case of statistics relating to the economy, it’s all too easy for our eyes to glaze over when figures get thrown about. But while interest rates may not seem like a great source of interest (pun intended), of course their effect on local families and work places can be huge.
It is probably more helpful to think about sets of numbers such as inflation and interest rates as indicating how good our quality of life can get.
In the case of inflation, it was disheartening to see news recently that the annual figure for the last 12 months is now 4.9%. The expectation is that interest rates will rise as a result, which is obviously a bad news for those owing mortgage-secured loans. And of course inflation itself can have a corrosive effect on wages.
For our people here in northern and west Auckland, and across the country for that matter, the greatest danger is of course “stagflation”.
It’s been years since we faced such a combination of stagnant economic conditions (perhaps inevitable following a global pandemic) and inflation (unavoidable when extra printed cash is swirling around).
If we think about the things that lie within our control, as individuals, families and communities, the answer surely lies in sticking together as best we can.
A year ago, the phrase “support local” was a catchcry to rally our region around organisations – especially local businesses – that had been hit hard. In the dying weeks of 2021 it will be at least as important a sentiment, if not more so.
While it’s currently necessary to purchase so many goods online – and the whole world is at our fingertips – we can still consciously choose the local, independent little guy or girl. It’s our best hope of outrunning inflation. Improving the incomes of our friends, family and neighbours must be a priority. In an age of numbers, these ones really do matter.
Good luck out there team.

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