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Economics and the markets: The disinflation phenomenon
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Economics and the markets: The disinflation phenomenon

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Economics and the markets: The disinflation phenomenon

THERE was striking news from the euro zone yesterday, the inflation rate fell to 0.7% in October, the lowest for almost four years. There is much speculation now that the ECB will have to ease monetary policy further. And the EU is not alone. Figures from the Conference Board show that the growth rate of the harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP), an internationally comparable measure, was 0.8% in the US in September this year, compared with 2.1% a year earlier. Japan and Switerland are exceptions to the rule; they have edged out of outright deflation but only into very mild inflationary territory.Lower commodity prices have helped; energy prices in the euro zone are down 1.7% year-on-year while food prices are rising only 1.9%, compared with 2.6% a year ago. But core inflation is also lower; it is only 0.8% in the euro zone.Alan Ruskin of Deutsche Bank writes thatThere is a clear global element to the disinflationary story related to a lagged response to large output gaps; reduced China-led commodity price pressure; and improved energy supply buffers, most notably in the USSo why haven't we had the inflation that some predicted in the wake of quantitative easing? The reason is that central banks are not the only, nor indeed the main, money creators. Money is usually created by the private banking system and that has been trying to shrink. If the money supply is a bath, ...

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