The National Statistics Institute (INE) has incorporated the free electricity and gas market in 2023 for its calculations of the Consumer Price Index (CPI). A year ago, a report from the Caixabank research service based on the receipts domiciled in their accounts indicated that inflation could be up to almost two percentage points lower if the free electricity rate was taken into account and not only the regulated one. (includes invoices linked to the wholesale market, which is more volatile) as reported by the INE. This free market is a consequence of what companies and consumers agree to, and has longer term contracts that at that time took longer to reflect the sharp price increases that were occurring in the energy market.
Immediately, the statistical agency replied that a price measurement could not be made simply from invoices, since these are also determined by factors such as the level of consumption or offers. The statistical institute then defended that its measurement was well done, endorsed by Eurostat and that, in any case, it would look for a way to collect these changes. Although the energy companies dragged their feet a bit at first to provide the information, they have finally provided the data on this type of free market contract so that the price per consumption unit can be prepared, just what the INE needed to be able to include it. in your CPI statistic.
The difference between one and the other has not been as great as might be expected, according to INE sources. Especially at this time when electricity prices are well below the gas cap set by the Iberian mechanism. In any case, we will have to wait for the publication of the detailed CPI to try to observe the variation that may have caused. And it will be more difficult to do so because two new elements have also been introduced as of January: one of them is a new weighting structure based on national accounting instead of the Household Budget Survey. The weights of what is consumed in the shopping basket are adapted every year and a complete review is carried out every five years, recalls the INE. This time Food and non-alcoholic beverages reduce their importance in the shopping basket: they go from accounting for 22.6% of the total to 19.6%. Housing, from 14.2% to 12.7%. And Clothing and footwear, from 6% to 3.9%. On the other hand, Transport rises from 13% to 13.8%. Medicine from 4.4% to 6%. And Leisure and culture, from 6.4% to 7.9%.
According to some experts consulted, this change in weights could have raised the CPI somewhat. However, the data for January has been marked above all by the withdrawal of the 20-cent fuel subsidy, which has had quite a considerable impact. In addition, new methods are also introduced to collect information more automatically. The call web scrapingwhich consists of the automated collection of prices on the Internet, and the automatic dumping of company databases.
With all these novelties, the CPI data for January, published this Monday, has already been prepared. “This incomparability due to changes is acceptable. Every year these modifications are made to better reflect the household shopping basket”, explain INE sources. And they add that there have always been cuts in the series when recalibrating the weights, but that these are not changes large enough to break the series. They are operations validated by Eurostat, settle.
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