IMF sees inflation back at pre-COVID level

·2-min read

The International Monetary Fund does not believe the rapid acceleration in inflation will continue, but admits there are risks ahead as the global economy recovers from the coronavirus pandemic.

In a report ahead of next week's influential world economic outlook, the IMF predicts annual inflation in advanced economies will peak at 3.6 per cent on average in the final months of this year.

It expects inflation will then revert to its pre-pandemic level of two per cent in the first half of 2022.

Inflation has increased since the beginning of the year with demand picking up as economies recovered from last year's deep recession, along with supply shortages and rapidly rising commodity prices.

"As economies reopen, the release of excess savings accumulated during the pandemic could further fuel private spending,"' the IMF said.

"This combination of unprecedented factors has led to concern about the possibility of persistently high inflation."

However, the Washington-based institution says although much uncertainty remains, recovering demand is expected to have only a small impact on future inflation.

Even so, it warns there are risks to this outlook should there be prolonged supply disruptions, or housing or commodity prices shocks in the future, which could lead to significantly higher inflation than the IMF's baseline case.

"Clear communication, combined with appropriate monetary and fiscal policies tailored to country-specific contexts, however, could prevent 'inflation scares' from unhinging inflation expectations," it says.

In Australia, the consumer price index did spike to an annual rate of 3.8 per cent in the June quarter, its highest level in some 13 years.

This was the result of rising fuel prices and the unwinding of government support measures introduced during the depths of last year's recession.

However, the Reserve Bank of Australia expects CPI will ease to 2.5 per cent by the end of the year and to 1.5 per cent by mid-2021.

The RBA has repeatedly said it will not lift the cash rate from its record low level of 0.1 per cent until inflation is sustainably within its two to three per cent inflation target, a condition it does not expect to be fulfilled before 2024.

Still, consumer inflation expectations have struck their highest level since 2014 in the weekly ANZ-Roy Morgan confidence survey, coming at a time when petrol prices have hit a three-year high due to rising global oil prices.

Inflation expectations provide an indicator as to where price pressures may be heading, and can be used in setting prices and wages.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting