I did a poll on Facebook to see how local people were coping with energy bills and the rising cost of living. 53% were cutting their energy consumption but 16% appear to be fine overall. 3% said they have to choose between heating and eating so this is a genuine cost-of-living crisis. I paid my energy direct debit last week and the government rebate of £66 has just reached my bank account. My energy account is over £1600 in credit and I’m still paying £187 a month. No wonder people are struggling.
The Kwarteng Catastophe
Following the Kwarteng catastrophe that crashed both the pound and the markets things haven’t really picked up in the London market. Many people seem to have switched to defensive from growth stocks. Everyone is waiting for Hunt to do an Autumn statement to see how he is going to plug that imaginary “black hole” in public finances they keep talking about. They have stretched their credit but they can rein in inflation by cutting demand and that’s easy; put up VAT. People can cut down on imported crap from China but need money to pay their energy bills and need their mortgages affordable. Little Rishi cut a few pence off petrol and diesel, that was another mistake. Cutting alcohol duty was another mistake. Help people afford essentials. I do think help for homeowners should go to first-time buyers though, interest rates have been too low for far too long forcing up property prices.
In the market
Looking for bargains in the market is difficult. A certain finance website regularly tips Lloyds Banking Group and I think that could rise a lot in the New Year. The actions of the FED in the US have brought inflation down a bit and led to a little boom for growth stocks like banks and tech. If UK inflation is down significantly in January as a result of higher interest rates and a cut in demand following Christmas, we could see a bull market that sees higher prices for banks and the FTSE 100 companies. Higher interest rates will benefit banks like Barclays, Lloyds, Natwest and Standard Chartered.
People are seeing their discretionary incomes fall rapidly or even disappear altogether. This winter we could even have power cuts for which I have bought batteries and battery-operated lights! I think I’m going to record some TV films and programs on USB as well. I can watch those on my laptop if we get 4 hours of cuts. I bought a COB light with powerful LEDs that will light up a room and I have other lamps that will run on batteries too. Heating will be by using my gas fires. It is better to be prepared. It’s also worth having enough actual cash to last a week or two as well.