It’s Mostly Food: How to Tame Indian Inflation

By Rahul Anand and Paul Cashin

After being low for decades, inflation in India trended higher from the mid-2000s. It reached 10–11 percent by 2008, and remained elevated at double digits for several years. Even though inflation fell by almost half in 2014, inflation expectations have remained high.

High and persistent inflation in recent years has presented serious macroeconomic challenges in India, increasing the country’s domestic and external vulnerabilities. As Reserve Bank of India Governor Raghuram Rajan pointed out at the 8th R.N. Kao Memorial Lecture in 2014, “inflation is a destructive disease … we can’t push inflation under the carpet as a central banker. We have to deal with it.”

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Disinflation in EU Countries outside the Eurozone

By Plamen Iossifov and Jiri Podpiera

Inflation has been falling sharply across Europe since 2012 (see Charts 1 and 2). Across Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), inflation expectations have also drifted down especially among countries who peg their currencies to the euro (Bulgaria, Croatia, as well as Lithuania, which adopted the euro on January 1, 2015), but also in those that target their inflation rate (the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Romania).

The recent drop in world oil prices has re-ignited the debate about good vs. bad disinflation. For the euro area, risks from low inflation have been discussed in the March 2014 iMFdirect post. Our blog examines the causes and potential consequences of falling inflation from the perspective of EU countries outside the euro zone.

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Latin America and the Caribbean: Dealing with Another Food Price Shock

World food prices are on the rise again owing mainly to global weather-related shocks. This has led to concern that the rise could result in higher inflation and hurt the most vulnerable. The impact on domestic inflation in Latin America and the Caribbean of the latest food price shock is beginning to be felt, although the pass-through to core (or underlying) inflation has been relatively limited thus far.

Darn Them Piggies! Pork Prices & the Inflation Outlook for China

It was pretty clear to me on a recent visit that China has become one of the biggest global markets for Angry Birds. The game was everywhere and around 100 million Chinese downloads are expected this year. It made me wonder if this was somehow linked to rising concerns over inflation and a way of getting back at those (increasingly expensive) mischievous green pigs. During the past year, views on China’s economy have yo-yoed from concerns about the recovery, to hand-wringing about inflation and overheating, and then back to talk of hard landing. Inflation peaked in July and was all set to quickly retreat in the latter part of this year. Unfortunately, just as China appeared to be heading out of the (inflationary) woods, pork happened. An ongoing (and literal) hog cycle caused pork prices to skyrocket. While the hog-cycle will soon turn and the effects should wash out reasonably quickly, the bad news is that the return to more normal times and lower inflation will be postponed once again.

Global Growth Hits a Soft Patch

Despite a mild slowdown, the global economic recovery continues but the road to health will be a long one. Downside risks, both old and new, are increasing. Our world forecast is 4.3% growth for 2011, and 4.5% for 2012, so down by 0.1% for 2011, and unchanged for 2012, relative to April. This figure hides very different performances for advanced economies on the one hand, and for emerging and developing economies on the other.

Confessions of a Dismal Scientist—Africa’s Resilience

Like many economists, I tend to fear the worst. I have witnessed phenomenal changes for the better in sub-Saharan Africa over the past 20 odd years. Part of me still worries that this trajectory will not endure. But, the more I see of the region’s economic performance and outlook, the more I’m changing my tune. Good macroeconomic policies in many more countries the years before the crisis put them in good stead to weather the crisis relatively well. As we report in our latest Regional Economic Outlook, output in sub-Saharan Africa looks set to expand by around 5½ this year and 6 percent in 2012. My latest worry is the recent sharp increase in food and fuel prices on world markets. To help minimize the dislocation that this shock may entail, countries should consider a two-pronged policy response.

All Eyes on Paris and the G-20

As G-20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors gather in Paris this weekend, their meeting—the first ministerial level meeting of France’s G-20 presidency—comes at a critical juncture, critical for the global economy, with tensions and risks emerging that require strong policy responses, and critical for ensuring actions on international policy cooperation and reform. So, with all eyes turning to Paris, here is some recommended reading for G-20 watchers.

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