2021–2023 inflation surge

Ongoing global inflation above target

Inflation rate, United States and eurozone, January 2018 through March 2024
Average annual inflation[1][2]
Country/Region 2020 2021 2022
 Argentina 42.0% 48.4% 72.4%
 Australia 0.9% 2.8% 6.6%
 Brazil 3.2% 8.3% 9.3%
 Canada 0.7% 3.4% 6.8%
 China 2.5% 0.9% 1.9%
 Japan 0.0% -0.2% 2.5%
 South Korea 0.5% 2.5% 5.1%
 Turkey 12.3% 19.6% 72.3%
 United Kingdom 0.9% 2.6% 9.1%
 United States 1.3% 4.7% 8.0%
Europe and Central Asia 1.2% 3.3% 10.4%
 European Union 0.5% 2.6% 8.8%
Latin America and Caribbean 1.0% 3.9% 7.7%
South Asia 5.7% 5.5% 7.7%
World 1.9% 3.5% 8.0%

A worldwide surge in inflation began in mid-2021, with many countries seeing their highest inflation rates in decades. It has been attributed to various causes, including COVID-19 pandemic-related economic dislocation, supply chain disruptions, the fiscal and monetary stimuli provided in 2020 and 2021 by governments and central banks around the world in response to the pandemic, and price gouging. Recovery in demand from the COVID-19 recession had by 2020 led to significant supply shortages across many business and consumer economic sectors. The inflation rate in the United States and the eurozone peaked in the second half of 2022 and sharply declined in 2023 and into 2024. Despite its decline, significantly higher price levels across various goods and services relative to pre-pandemic levels persist, which some economists speculate is permanent.[3][4][5][6]

In early 2022, the Russian invasion of Ukraine's effect on global oil prices, natural gas, fertilizer, and food prices further exacerbated the situation.[7] Higher gasoline prices were a major contributor to inflation as oil producers saw record profits. Debate arose over whether inflationary pressures were transitory or persistent, and to what extent price gouging was a factor. All central banks (except for the Bank of Japan which had kept its interest rates steady at –0.1% until 2024[8]) responded by aggressively increasing interest rates.[9][10][11][12]

Background and causes

Consumer spending on goods in the United States and elsewhere moved in tandem with spending on services (see goods and services) prior to the COVID-19 recession, but upon emerging from the recession consumers shifted spending towards goods and away from services, particularly in the United States.[13] This shift placed stress on supply chains, such that the supply of goods could not meet demand, resulting in price increases. In November 2021 inflation in the United States was 14.9% for durable goods, compared to 10.7% for consumable goods and 3.8% for services.[13] Similar situations occurred in several other major economies.[which?] Supply chain stresses increased prices for commodities and transportation, which are cost inputs for finished goods.[13]

In countries where food constituted a large part of the inflation increase,[where?] rising prices forced low-income consumers to reduce spending on other goods, thereby slowing economic growth. "In those countries with high inflation, consumer spending has weakened because household spending power has taken a hit from rising prices," said William Jackson of Capital Economics, "And you've generally seen much more aggressive moves to tighten monetary policy."[14]

In June 2022, The Atlantic published an editorial article critical towards the U.S. Department of the Treasury controlling inflation. In 2021, Janet Yellen called the risk of inflation "small" and "manageable", and equally Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell thought inflation would be "transitory", even as inflation rose above 6 percent. In 2023, the International Monetary Fund ascertained that "food and energy are the main drivers of this inflation", as rising prices continue to squeeze living standards not only in North America but worldwide.[15][16]

Six out of ten (59%) EU enterprises were concerned about energy prices in 2023, and five out of ten (47%) were concerned about uncertainty, with some country variations.[17] Energy cost rises were more common in EU businesses than in US firms (93% vs. 83%).[17][18] Manufacturing businesses were the most likely to have encountered a 25% or more rise in energy spending, while the construction sector had the lowest number of firms suffering a 25% or greater increase in energy spending, despite the fact that more than half of firms reported this.[17][19][20]

Fiscal and monetary policy

Among the factors contributing to the surge of inflation were the unprecedented levels of fiscal and monetary stimulus enacted to sustain household incomes and the liquidity of financial institutions in the 2020-2021 period. Many governments around the world adopted such stimulatory actions early in the COVID-19 pandemic.[21][22][23][24]

Some immediate actions were taken by banking systems across the country to combat the inflation surge, as most banks today target the rate of inflation in a country as their primary way of measuring economic flow for monetary policy. When inflation is present banks will make changes to their monetary policy by increasing interest rates or making changes to other policies. Higher interest rates make borrowing more expensive, reducing consumption. This is put into place purposely to maintain a level of consumption that will contribute to a steady level of inflation or decrease it, this is also known as inflation targeting.[25]

U.S. President Joe Biden said in August 2023 that his Inflation Reduction Act was inaptly named because it had "less to do with reducing inflation than it has to do with providing alternatives that generate economic growth,". The Congressional Budget Office had projected the law would have negligible effect on inflation, and it did not appear to reduce inflation at all. Contrary to Republican predictions, it also did not appear to have increased inflation.[26]

Supply chain disruptions

Some economists[27] attribute the U.S. inflation surge to product shortages resulting from the global supply-chain problems, itself largely caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.[28] This coincided with strong consumer demand, driven by low unemployment and improved financial conditions following the pandemic.[29] The higher demand caused by the U.S. government's $5 trillion aid spending exacerbated supply-side issues in the United States; according to the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco researchers, this contributed 3 percentage points to inflation by the end of 2021.[30] They argued that the spending measures were nevertheless necessary to prevent deflation, which would've been harder to manage than inflation.[31]

Consumer prices have reached an all-time high within the last thirty years, soaring by 6.2% from the previous year, things like restaurant prices to clothes and the most popular being fuel, have drastically increased.[32] Fuel prices rose by 49% from January to June 2022 in the United States.[33] During the pandemic, the number of workers working worldwide plunged and had an immediate impact on the United States as less than a third of the global population has been vaccinated. Countries that supplied the United States with shoes and clothes such as Vietnam have had factory hub shortages due to not having enough vaccinated workers.[source?]

In June 2022, BlackRock CEO Larry Fink argued that consumer demand in the United States had remained steady compared to pre-pandemic years, with supply-chain issues overseas being the primary cause of the post-pandemic inflation surge. He attributed this to some countries taking longer (than the U.S.) to resume economic activity, thereby disrupting international trade.[34]

Price gouging and windfall profits

In the United States, some Democratic politicians[35]: 1 [36]: 1 and other observers have contended that price gouging or "greedflation" exacerbated the inflation surge in the United States.[35]: 1[37][38] They argue that the market concentration which has occurred in recent decades in some major industries, especially retailing, has given companies the ability to wield near-monopolistic pricing power.[38] Many economists responded by noting that if these large corporations indeed had so much market power, they could have used it to increase prices at any time, regardless of the pandemic.[38]

In 2022, several economists stated that price gouging could be a minor contributor to continuing inflation, but it is not one of the major underlying causes that started this surge.[35][37][38][36] Justin Wolfers, an economist at the University of Michigan quotes Jason Furman, who served as chair of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Obama said, "Blaming inflation on [corporate] greed is like blaming a plane crash on gravity. It is technically correct, but it entirely misses the point."[39] Wolfers states that companies will always charge the highest prices possible, but that competition keeps prices in check.[39]

Economists have stated that during times of high inflation, consumers know prices are increasing but do not have a good understanding of what reasonable prices should be, giving retailers the opportunity to raise prices faster than the cost inflation they are experiencing, resulting in larger profits.[35]: 1[37][38][40] One example of this was the meat industry, where profits went up industry-wide as prices went up, because demand never decreased.[41]

A 2021 analysis conducted by The New York Times found that profit margins across more than 2,000 publicly traded companies were well above the pre-pandemic average during the year, as corporate profits reached a record high.[42][43] Economists at the University of Massachusetts Amherst found that in 2022 profit margins of US companies reached their highest level since the aftermath of World War II.[44] European Central Bank economists found in May 2023 that businesses were using the surge as a rare opportunity to boost their profit margins, finding it was a bigger factor than rising wages in fueling inflation during the second half of 2022.[45]

UBS Global Wealth Management chief economist Paul Donovan said this has happened because post-pandemic household balance sheets have kept consumer spending demand strong enough to encourage producers to raise prices faster than costs, and because consumers have been gullible enough to find exaggerated narratives justifying such price hikes plausible: "Consumers seem to be buying stories that seem to justify price increases, but which really serve as cover for profit margin expansion."[46]

In January 2023, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, released a study which stated that "...markup growth likely contributed more than 50 percent to inflation in 2021, a substantially higher contribution than during the preceding decade. However, the markup itself is determined by a host of unobservable factors, ... We conclude that an increase in markups likely provides a signal that price setters expect persistent increases in their future costs of production."[47]

Robert Reich, who worked under President Bill Clinton as Labor Secretary, stated, "Nobody believes that price gouging is the main cause of inflation...The question really is whether corporate pricing power is aggravating the situation. And there's a great deal of evidence it is."[36]

A 2022 Working Paper by the International Monetary Fund explores implementation of windfall profit taxes, which have gained renewed interest following the COVID-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, and subsequent surges in energy and food prices. The paper discusses the potential of such taxes as a tool for efficiently taxing economic rents, which are often a result of monopolistic power or unexpected events like pandemics, war, or natural disasters, and contribute to windfall profits. Such profits have raised public and policy concerns about price gouging, where firms are perceived to be profiting excessively from unforeseen circumstances.[48]

A May 2023 New York Times story reported that despite the costs of doing business falling in recent months, many large corporations have continued to raise prices, contributing to the recent inflation surge. The prices of oil, transportation, food ingredients, and other raw materials have decreased as the shocks from the pandemic and the Ukraine war have faded. However, many businesses have maintained or even increased their prices, bolstering their profits and potentially keeping inflation high. This strategy could pressure the Federal Reserve to keep raising interest rates, increasing the likelihood of an economic downturn. Analysts suggest that the continued high consumer prices are due to several factors, including increased demand for goods and services as households emerge from the pandemic, constrained supply chains, and consumers' willingness to spend more due to government stimulus payments, investment gains, pay raises, and low-interest mortgage refinancing. One investment firm estimates that these spending habits may change this summer as the bottom 25% of income earners fully deplete their pandemic savings. Some economists warn that wealthier households are affected less by inflation, with higher prices encouraging poorer consumers to substitute for less expensive purchases.[49]

An International Monetary Fund study published in June 2023 found that rising corporate profits accounted for almost half of the increase in euro area inflation during the preceding two years.[50]

According to a 2023 article in The Economist, there has been a notable rise in market concentration across various sectors, leading to significantly higher profits for dominant firms, especially in Western economies. This trend has been linked to concerns about greed-fueled price increases, particularly in sectors like energy and healthcare where large firms have been able to collect substantial economic rents.[51]

A December 2023 paper published by the UK based Institute for Public Policy Research and Common Wealth think tanks stated that corporate profiteering played an important role in the inflation spike of 2022. Corporate profits surged while wages failed to keep pace with rising prices, resulting in the working class suffering the largest decline in disposable and discretionary income since World War II.[52]

In January 2024, the progressive think thank Groundwork Collaborative published a report in which it declared that "resounding evidence" shows that high corporate profits were responsible for 53% of inflation in the United States during the second and third quarters of 2023.[53]

Oil and gasoline sector

Shortly after initial energy price shocks caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine subsided, oil companies found that supply chain constrictions, already exacerbated by the ongoing global COVID-19 pandemic, supported price inelasticity, i.e., they began lowering prices to match the price of oil when it fell much more slowly than they had increased their prices when costs rose.[54]

The major American and British oil producers (Big Oil) reported record profits in 2022.[55][56][57] Amid longstanding constraints in refinery capacity, refinery profit margins were higher than their historical averages.[58] In July, the UK imposed a 25% windfall profit tax on British North Sea oil producers, which expected to raise £5 billion to pay for a government scheme that reduced household energy costs.[59] In late October, U.S. President Joe Biden accused the oil and gas sector of "war profiteering" and threatened to seek a windfall profit tax if the industry did not increase production to curb gasoline prices.[60]

Also, some argued the possibility of a "base effect" phenomenon that emerged due to a significant decline in certain prices, such as oil, at the onset of the pandemic. Comparing these anomalously low prices with the subsequent higher prices has then accentuated the perceived inflation.[61][62]

Analysis published in June 2023 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics found that from February 2020 through May 2023, gasoline retailing profit margins had increased 62%.[63]

Grocery prices

Analysis published in early 2024 by the White House Council of Economic Advisers found that grocery and beverage retailers had increased their margins by nearly two percentage points since the eve of the pandemic, to the highest level in two decades. The analysis found that grocer margins had remained elevated as the inflation surge eased, though margins for other types of retailers had fallen back to historical levels. President Joe Biden and others asserted that shrinkflation, a practice of reducing portion or quantity sizes of packaged foods while maintaining the same price, was keeping profit margins higher than usual.[64][65][66]

The Federal Trade Commission released a report in March 2024 finding that large grocery retailers "accelerated and distorted" the effects of supply chain disruptions to protect their profits. The analysis found that some large retailers "seem to have used rising costs as an opportunity to further hike prices to increase their profits, and profits remain elevated even as supply chain pressures have eased." The study found some large retailers sought to gain an advantage over smaller competitors by threatening suppliers with large fines if strict delivery requirements were not met, and that in some cases "suppliers preferentially allocated product to the purchasers threatening to fine them." Some suppliers, however, were already contractually-bound to supply other retailers. FTC chair Lina Khan said "dominant firms used this moment to come out ahead at the expense of their competitors and the communities they serve." Although the pace of grocery price increases had abated since the 2022 surge, prices had not since fallen overall by 2024. Retailers have said they planned smaller price increases in 2024 as consumers had begun to push back against high prices, causing some retailers to lose sales. The FTC and several state attorneys general in February 2024 sued to block a proposed $25 billion merger between large grocery chains Kroger and Albertsons, arguing the deal would reduce competition and likely lead to higher consumer prices.[67]

Industry consolidation driving inflation? - comparison to healthcare

The healthcare industry, which has become highly consolidated over previous decades like the oil industry, and has until recently had prices continuously rising faster than inflation, has not experienced recent price inflation, whereas the oil industry has.[35]: 1 [38]: 1

Motor vehicle prices

In the United States, higher motor vehicle prices were a significant contributor to the inflation surge. Analysis published in May 2023 by The New York Times found that auto manufacturers and dealers shifted from a high volume-low margin business model before the pandemic to a low volume-high margin model after the pandemic. Manufacturers emphasized higher-margin luxury vehicles, while dealers increased their markups over manufacturer list prices. A study published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the agency that tracks consumer prices, found that dealer markups accounted for 35% to 62% of new vehicle inflation from 2019 to 2022. Paul Ryan, the CEO of a shopping app that monitors prices across about 40,000 dealerships, remarked, "it was the best of times for car dealers, for sure."[68]

Transitory vs persistent debate

A debate arose among economists early in 2021 as to whether inflation was a transitory effect of the world's emergence from the pandemic, or whether it would be persistent. Economists Larry Summers and Olivier Blanchard warned of persistent inflation, while Paul Krugman and U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen argued it would be transitory.[69] Inflation continued to accelerate during 2021 and into 2022. In response, the Federal Reserve increased the fed funds rate by 25 basis points in March 2022, the first increase in three years, followed by 50 basis points in May, then a succession of four 75 basis point hikes in each of June, July, September and November. Some analysts considered these increases late and dramatic, arguing they might induce a recession.[70][71] The combined moves put the fed funds rate at its highest level[quantify] since the onset of the Great Recession in early 2008.[72][73] Inflation in the Eurozone hit a record high of 8.1% in May, prompting the European Central Bank to announce that it would raise rates in July by 25 basis points, the first increase in eleven years, and again in September by 50 basis points. By November it had increased rates by a cumulative 200 basis points.[74][75] After the Fed's third rate increase, Summers said "We are still headed for a pretty hard landing."[76] By November 2022, the inflation rate in the United States had declined five months straight while job creation remained strong and third quarter real GDP growth was 3.2% on strong consumer spending, leading a growing number of investors to conclude a hard landing might be averted.[77][78][79][80]

Impact of the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine

Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody's Analytics, analyzed United States Consumer Price Index components following the May 2022 report that showed an 8.6% inflation rate in the U.S. He found that by then the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine was the principal cause of higher inflation, comprising 3.5% of the 8.6%. He said oil and commodities prices jumped in anticipation of and response to the invasion, leading to higher gasoline prices. Resulting higher diesel prices led to higher transportation costs for consumer goods, notably food.[81]

Russian gas supply curbs, which began in 2021, aggravated energy crunch caused by demand growth and global supply limitations during the post pandemic restrictions recovery. In Europe, gas prices increased by more than 450%, and electricity by 230% in less than a year.[82] On February 22, 2022, before the Russian invasion, the German Government froze the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany,[83] causing natural gas prices to rise significantly.[84]

On February 24, Russian military forces invaded Ukraine[85] to overthrow the democratically elected government, and replace it with a Russian puppet government.[86] Before the invasion, Ukraine accounted for 11.5% of the world's wheat crop market, and contributed 17% of the world's corn crop export market, and the invasion caused wheat and corn from Ukraine unable to reach international market, causing shortages, and result in dramatic rise in prices,[87] that exacerbated to foodstuffs and biodiesel prices.[88][89] Additionally, the price of Brent Crude Oil per barrel rose from $97.93 on February 25 to a high of $127.98 on March 8,[90] this caused petrochemicals and other goods reliant on crude oil to rise in price as well.[91][92]

The effect of sanctions on the Russian economy caused annual inflation in Russia to rise to 17.89%, its highest since 2002.[93] Weekly inflation hit a high of 0.99% in the week of April 8, bringing YTD inflation in Russia to 10.83%, compared to 2.72% in the same period of 2021.[93]

Regional impacts

While most countries saw a rise in their annual inflation rate during 2021 and 2022, some of the highest rates of increase have been in Europe, Brazil, Turkey and the United States.[94][95] By June 2022, nearly half of Eurozone countries had double-digit inflation, and the region reached an average inflation rate of 8.6%, the highest since its formation in 1999.[96] In response, at least 75 central banks around the world have aggressively increased interest rates.[97] However, the World Bank warns that combating inflation with rate hikes has increased the risk of a global recession.[98][99]

North Africa and Middle East

Countries in North Africa were disproportionally affected by inflation. Tunisia went through a crisis triggered by soaring energy prices and unprecedented inflation of foods in 2022. Moroccan household finances also were negatively affected by imported inflation. Annual inflation rates in North African countries rose to 15.3 percent compared to 6.4 percent in 2021, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics.[100][101][102]

In some North African countries, the inflation surge has encouraged hoarding practices by consumers. Price increases for basic food staples, such as coffee, were particularly high in parts of Asia and North Africa, where people spend a higher proportion of income on food and fuel than in the United States and Europe. Food producers of Nestlé's Middle East and North Africa (MENA) unit have noticed the stock-piling of non-perishable items, as a reaction to the surging inflation. Karim Al Bitar, head of consumer research and market intelligence at MENA, said that the company is considering to make some products "more affordable" to consumers.[103]

In Turkey, retail prices rose 9.65% in December compared to November, for an annual rate of 34%. Some of the largest increases were for electricity, natural gas, and gasoline. The economy was further strained by a currency crisis caused by a series of rate cuts by the central bank; the Turkish lira lost 44% of its value against the dollar during 2021.[104] By August 2022, Turkey's inflation rate was 80.21%.[105]

Sub-Saharan Africa

According to the IMF, median inflation approached 9% in August. Rising prices of food and "tradable goods like household products" have contributed most to this increase.[106]

North America

Housing prices inflation from Q4 2020 to Q4 2021 in the United States
  40%
  20%
  0%
  -20%
  -40%

In the United States, the Consumer Price Index rose 6.8% between November 2020 and November 2021, spurred by price increases for gasoline, food, and housing.[107] Higher energy costs caused the inflation to rise further in 2022,[108] reaching 9.1%, a high not seen since 1981.[109] In July 2022, the Fed increased the interest rate for the third time in the year,[110] yet inflation remained high outpacing the growth in wages[111] and spending.[112] According to the Economic Policy Institute the minimum wage was worth less than any time since 1956 due to inflation.[113][114]

Nevertheless, the hikes were seen as faster and sooner than the response by the European Central Bank, so while the euro fell, the dollar remained relatively stronger, helping it to be the more valuable currency for the first time in 20 years.[115][116] On July 27, the Fed announced a fourth rate rise by 0.75 points, bringing the rate to a range between 2.25% and 2.5%; although an expected move to combat the inflation, the rise has been seen more cautiously as there are signs that the economy is entering a recession, which the rate rises could potentially aggravate.[117][118][119] On July 28, data from the BEA showed that the economy shrunk for the second quarter in a row, which is commonly used to define a recession.[120][121][122] BLS data showed that inflation eased on July to 8.5%[123][124] from the 40-year peak reached in June at 8.9%.[125] Annual inflation increased to 8.3% in August 2022, in part due to rising grocery prices.[126] In September, the Fed increased the interest for a fifth time in the year reaching a 14-year high.[127] In November 2022, the year-over-year inflation rate was 7.1%, the lowest it has been since December 2021 but still much higher than average.[128]

Inflation is believed to have played a major role in a decline in the approval rating of President Joe Biden, who took office in January 2021, being net negative starting in October of that year.[129] Many Republicans have blamed stimulus spending by Biden and fellow Democrats for fueling the surge; economists argue that the government's COVID stimulus during 2020 under Trump, as well as the Federal reserve's actions, and more stimulus under Biden, started the 2021 inflation spike.[130] In March 2023, Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell said that currently the primary drivers of inflation are supply chain problems, consumers' change to purchases of goods rather than services, and the tight labor market.[130][131]

A recent analysis by the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City ascertained the role America is playing in the current inflationary trend worldwide. Before 2019, the U.S. was seen as a last resort for consumer spending during a global recession, but after 2020, U.S. exports have contributed to foreign inflation. At the same time, energy prices have gone up as well as the value of the U.S. dollar, which both increased monetary pressures on nations that mostly rely on energy imports. In effect, the strength of the U.S. dollar and sanctions on energy commodities have contributed to global inflation in 2022.[132]

Analysis conducted by Politico in May 2023 found that in the United States, wage growth for the bottom 10th percentile of the wage scale beat inflation by a strong 5.7% from 2020 through 2022. For the middle 50th percentile, real wages were down by 1%, while they were down 5% for the top 90th percentile.[133]

After peaking at 9.1% in June 2022, the United States inflation rate declined steadily into 2023, representing overall disinflation. Analysis conducted by NerdWallet on October 2023 data found that prices for 92 of the 338 goods and services measured in CPI had declined from one year earlier, representing deflation for those items.[134] The Farm Bureau annual survey found the average cost of a Thanksgiving dinner would be down 4.5% from 2022.[135]

On July 26, the FED raised the interest rate to 5.5% the highest since 2001[136] and in October the 10-year Treasury yield rose to 5% a 16 year high.[137][138] while the 30-year fixed mortgage rate rose to 8% a 23 year high.[139] 2023 was the worst year for US home sales since 1995.[140] Despite gloom numbers the US defied recession fears with 3.3% growth in fourth quarter.[141][142]

Canada also saw multi-decade highs in inflation, hitting 5.1% in February 2022[143] and further increasing to 6.7% two months later.[144] In April, inflation rose again to 6.8%,[145][146] before jumping to 7.7% in May, the highest ever since 1983.[147][148]

In July 2022, Mexico's INEGI reported a year-on-year increase in consumer prices of 8.15%, against a Central Bank target of 2–4%.[149]

South America

In Brazil, inflation hit its highest rate since 2003 — prices rose 10.74% in November 2021 compared to November 2020. Economists predicted that inflation has peaked and that, in fact, the economy may be headed for recession, in part due to aggressive interest rate increases by the central bank.[150]

According to Austing Rating data, Brazil ended 2022 with the sixth lowest G20 inflation rate. Inflation recorded in Brazil in 2022 was below the United States for the first time in 15 years, in addition to being lower than that of the United Kingdom and the 6th lowest in the G20 (group of the 19 largest and most important economies in the world and the European Union).[151]

In Argentina, a country with a chronic inflation problem, the interest rate was hiked to 69.5% in August, as inflation has further deteriorated hitting a 20-year high at 70%, and is forecasted to top 90% by the end of the year.[152] Inflation hit past 100% in February 2023 for the first time since 1991.[153][154] Argentina's December 2023 annual inflation was the highest in the world at 211.4%.[155]

Chile had low inflation for several years thanks to the monetary policy of its autonomous central bank. However, in 2022 there was a record intranual inflation of 14.1%, the highest in the last 30 years. There is a consensus among economists that Chilean inflation is mainly caused by endogenous factors, especially the aggressive expansionary policies during the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive withdrawals from pension funds. Economists have also predicted a possible recession by 2023 due to high interest rates to combat inflation.[156][157]

Europe

In the Netherlands, the average 2021 inflation rate was the highest since 2003.[158] With energy prices having increased by 75%, December saw the highest inflation rate in decades.[158] In 2023, Netherlands fell into recession from April to June.[159]

In the UK, inflation reached a 40-year high of 10.1% in July 2022, driven by food prices, and further increase is anticipated in October when higher energy bills are expected to hit.[160] In September, the Bank of England warned the UK may already be in recession[161] and in December, the interest rate was raised by the ninth time in the year to 3.5%, the highest level for 14 years.[162]

UK food and drink prices rose by 19.2% in the year to March 2023, a 45-year high.[163][164] On 3 August the BoE raised the interest rate to 5.25%, the highest since 2008.[165] The UK entered a technical recession in the final six months of 2023.[166][167]

Germany's inflation rate reached 11.7% in October, the highest level since 1951.[168] In 2023, Germany fell into recession from January to March due to persistent inflation.[169]

In France, inflation reached 5.8% in May, the highest in more than three decades.[170]

An estimated 70,000 people protested against the Czech government as a result of rising energy prices.[171][172]

In June 2022, the European Central Bank (ECB) decided to raise interest rates for the first time in eleven years due to the elevated inflation pressure.[173][174] In July, the euro fell below the U.S. dollar for the first time in 20 years, mainly due to fears of energy supply restrictions from Russia, but also because the ECB lagged behind the US, UK and other central banks in raising interest rates.[115][116] Eurozone inflation hit 9.1% and 10% in August and September, respectively,[175][176] prompting the ECB to raise interest rates for a second time in the year to 1.25% in early September.[177] In October, the inflation hit 10.7%, the highest since records began in 1997.[178][168]

In 2023, the Eurozone fell into recession from January to March[179] and also in March, the Eurozone core inflation hit a record 5.7%, the highest level since records began in 2001.[180] On 14 September, the ECB raised the interest rate for the tenth consecutive time to 4%, the highest since the euro was launched in 1999.[181][182]

Asia

In April 2022, the Philippines recorded 6.1% inflation, its highest since October 2018. The Philippine Statistics Authority forecasted that the number would most likely be higher in the following months. President Bongbong Marcos claimed that the record inflation rate was "not that high".[183] On January 5, 2023, the Philippines rapidly increased to a record-breaking 8.1% inflation from December 2022.[184][185]

In October 2022, the Japanese yen touched a 32-year low against the U.S. dollar, mainly because of the strength of the latter.[186][187] In November, the Japanese core inflation rate reached a 41-year high of 3.7%.[188]

Oceania

Inflation in New Zealand exceeded forecasts in July 2022, reaching 7.3%, which is the highest since 1990.[189] Economists at ANZ reportedly said they expected faster interest rate increases to counteract inflationary pressures.[190]

In Fiji, inflation rose to 4.7% in April 2022 compared to –2.4% in 2021.[191] Food prices rose by 6.9% in April 2022, fuel increased by 25.2%, kerosene by 28.5% and gas by 27.7%.[192]

In November 2023, Australia lifted the interest rate to 4.35%, a 12-year high.[193]

Inflation perceptions

An April 2024 Wall Street Journal poll across seven political swing states in the United States found that 74% of respondents thought inflation had worsened over the preceding year, though the inflation rate had declined by nearly half from one year earlier. On net, respondents in every state said the economy had improved in their state over the past two years, though they believed the national economy had worsened.[194] Numerous surveys showed that respondents considered inflation the single most important indicator of economic performance, and that consumers were more likely to perceive inflation as price levels rather than the pace of price increases.[195] The Federal Reserve February 2024 Survey of Consumer Expectations found that consumers had a median expectation of a 3.0% inflation rate in the coming year, and 2.7% over a three-year time horizon.[196]

See also

References

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External links

  • "Real interest rates". World Bank Open Data.
  • "Real interest rates". Visual Capitalist. May 4, 2023.
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