The minutes from the most recent Monetary Policy Committe (MPC) meeting makes for interesting reading - and not just for egg-head economists like me, but for consumers and businesses as well.
Why should non-economist types care?
Well, whenever monetary policy is involved, it comes down to two things: prices and interest rates.
Where prices are headed matter for household budgets that are going to be stretched in the coming months and years and taxes go up and public spending (and jobs) are cut. Interest rates matter to home owners - for many, mortgage interest payments will have fallen over the last 18 months, providing a nice cushion as incomes stagnated or fell. Others will be wary of buying homes because they expect interest rates to go up - which may keep house prices and home building on hold for some time to come.
For businesses it's about credit conditions.
Troubles in Europe have rocked financial markets and made it costlier for banks to access the capital they need to underpin lending here in the UK. Market volatility and uncertain has pushed the pound around - volatility that makes manufacturers catious about pushing into new export markets. And prices matter too, as rising imported input and raw materials costs could undermine competitiveness, even as markets rebound.
So why the interest in the MPC?
Well, the MPC is split on where they think the economy is. Some, like the Governor Mervyn King, think that economy has enough room to expand (called spare capacity by us boffins) to stamp out any inflationary pressures.
A second, cautious camp is concerned about rising inflation expectations - because prices have been rising, people come to expect them to continue to rise, which in turn pushes prices up, either through higher wage demands or through stronger demand or by passing costs on to customers.
A third (and small group of one) want to start raising rates now beacuse of the risks that inflation would continue to persist far above the 2% target.
For businesses and households, the prospect of either future (and sooner) rate rises or further inflationary pressure comes down to a key call on the economy: is there spare capacity in the economy (in businesses and in the labour market) to let the economy expand and grow without creating problems for inflation.
Like much in economics, there's unfortnately no single definition or measure of spare capacity. For economists, it comes down to your view of the world and what you hear from businesses.
What we're hearing is a worrying word - shortages.
Shortages - in skills and in raw materials - implies little or no spare capacity. And that puts us in the middle cautious camp. Inflation's has proved a persistent problem despite a series of temporary price pressures. But while fiscal consolidation remains on tough track, the MPC should still be worried about the health of the recovery.
That means keeping rates and QE on hold for now, but raises the prospects of interest rates going up sooner rather than later.