Friday, June 13, 2008


Stephen Roach explains the dynamic that everyone is talking about these days.
But there is a new threat to global inflation that was not present in the 1970s. It is arising from the developing world, especially in Asia, where price pressures are lurching out of control. For developing Asia as a whole, consumer price index inflation hit 7.5 per cent in April 2008, close to a 9½-year high and more than double the 3.6 per cent pace of a year ago. Sure, a good portion of the recent acceleration in pricing is a result of food and energy – critically important components of household budgets in poorer countries and yet items that many analysts mistakenly remove to get a cleaner read on underlying inflation. But even the residual, or “core”, inflation rate in developing Asia surged to 3.8 per cent in April, more than double the 1.8 per cent pace of a year ago.

Given Asia’s new-found role as the world’s producer, such an outbreak of surging inflation in this region is not without serious risks to the global economy. The globalisation of trade flows is a new transmission mechanism of worldwide inflation that was not evident in the 1970s. According to estimates from the International Monetary Fund, overall exports should hit a record 32.5 per cent of world gross domestic product in 2008, more than 50 per cent above the export share of 21 per cent prevailing in 1980, when the “great inflation” was nearing its peak.
He also points out that a lot of these countries don't really have independent central banks, so they can make some pretty irrational decisions from a purely economic point of view.

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