Business Comment: Halifax float gives inflation a little extra help

The prospect of pounds 2,000 in his back pocket has clearly been too much for Joe Halifax. The theory that the strong run in the recently floated Alliance & Leicester would persuade Halifax members to hang on to their windfalls was confounded yesterday after almost a quarter said: never mind the shares, give us the lolly. What this says about the society's 8 million members is unclear.

One possible, if charitable, explanation for this week's rush to the exit is the increasing sophistication of the British public after 15 years of shareholder capitalism. With IG Index, the spread betting specialist, forecasting a 700p close on the first day of dealings in Halifax shares, some members clearly took the view that most of the good news was already in the price. Halifax no doubt deserves a decent rating, but a premium to both the sector favourite, Lloyds TSB, and the market as a whole looks ambitious.

The less charitable answer is that for many Halifax account holders this sort of payout represents a never to be repeated opportunity to have that holiday in the sun or computer. They probably don't own any other shares and wouldn't know what to do with them anyway. For a lot of people a choice between a mysterious and risky financial asset and a fistful of cash is a no-brainer.

Whatever interpretation you put on the figures, it is probably bad news for the economy. No doubt some of the windfall gains will go, not on spending binges, but to top up PEPs or into some other form of sensible investment. Perhaps even a punt on the next demutualising society. It is a fair bet that older, wealthier and more sophisticated investors are not well represented in those who plan to cash in their chips next week. Far more likely, the sellers are young recipients of the minimum 200 share handout for whom pounds 1,400 represents a fantastic what-the-hell splurge. Part of the pounds 4bn will be lavished in the bars and restaurants of the Costa, but it is hard to imagine the rest won't do its inflationary worst at home.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sales?Do you have a keen interes...

Recruitment Genius: Loan Adviser - OTE £30,000

£17000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Assistant / Buyer

£15000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company offers a range of ...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisors are r...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high
How to find gold: The Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge

How to find gold

Steve Boggan finds himself in the Californian badlands, digging out crevasses and sifting sludge
Singing accents: From Herman's Hermits and David Bowie to Alesha Dixon

Not born in the USA

Lay off Alesha Dixon: songs sound better in US accents, even our national anthem
10 best balsamic vinegars

10 best balsamic vinegars

Drizzle it over salad, enjoy it with ciabatta, marinate vegetables, or use it to add depth to a sauce - this versatile staple is a cook's best friend
Greece says 'No': A night of huge celebrations in Athens as voters decisively back Tsipras and his anti-austerity stance in historic referendum

Greece referendum

Greeks say 'No' to austerity and plunge Europe into crisis
Ten years after the 7/7 terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?

7/7 bombings anniversary

Ten years after the terror attacks, is Britain an altered state?
Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has created

Versace haute couture review

Beautiful evening dresses are some of the loveliest Donatella has ever created
No hope and no jobs, so Gaza's young risk their lives, climb the fence and run for it

No hope and no jobs in Gaza

So the young risk their lives and run for it
Fashion apps: Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers

Fashion apps

Retailers roll together shopping and social networking for mobile customers
The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'