It is becoming increasingly apparent that the pick-up in inflation, particularly in the US, is cyclical. It is not just a consequence of base effects. Traditionally, any cyclical pick-up in inflation has required a monetary policy response. But that is not the intention of policymakers at present. The FOMC continues to believe that the pick-up will be transitory. We have our doubts. Inflation overshoots driven by a spike in the oil price, by a change in tax rates, or by a depreciation of the currency, tend ultimately to subtract from household real incomes. In that sense, they can be self-limiting, and deflationary in the long run, and it is often appropriate for policymakers to look through them. But that is not what we are seeing here. Only in the unlikely event that higher product prices do not feed through at all to higher wages, which would require a very strong degree of faith in policymakers’ ability to rapidly bring inflation back to target, would a cyclical pick-up in inflation be self limiting.

 

This chart is taken from Fathom’s final Recovery Watch newsletter. Click here to subscribe to Fathom’s regular research notes.