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.
Asia’s vigorous pace of growth has seen the region play a leading role in the global recovery. But there are signs that higher commodity prices are spilling over to a more generalized increase in inflation. Expectations of future inflation have picked up. And accommodative macroeconomic policy stances, coupled with limited slack in some economies, have added to inflation pressures. Against this backdrop, the need for policy tightening in Asia has become more pressing than it was six months ago, especially in economies that face generalized inflation pressures. How should policymakers address these challenges?
History has shown that persistent and large capital inflows can be a double edged sword. While they bring with them numerous benefits, they do pose risks and policy dilemmas. Continued large capital flows pose, for example, the risk of overheating and runups in asset prices that may subsequently render the region vulnerable to outflows and asset price busts.