Inflation out of control?
You might expect to see an inflation chart like this in an emerging market, but this is happening in the 5th largest economy in the world. With war and logistical issues disrupting the supply of energy and many raw materials, German producers are paying more for their inputs than ever before. Producer prices increased 30.8% YoY (blue line) in March with gas prices up an astonishing 145%.
This puts producers in a difficult position: should they push cost increases on to consumers, likely putting pressure on demand for their goods (as well as further increasing CPI), or suffer a major squeeze on profitability? And central banks are under pressure to take action to control inflation. In this environment, the widely publicized 1.7 percentage point downgrade to 2022 GDP that the IMF published last week is not too surprising. It’s difficult to predict where prices will head next, but the economic and financial market impacts are already being felt.
The almighty (and confusing) US consumer. US economic health is intricately tied to consumer behaviour with personal consumption accounting for ~70% of GDP. Predicting whether or not Americans will keep opening their wallets for a new car, a night at a restaurant or a nice vacation has far reaching implications.
Pricing power is back! Inflation remains top of mind for investors but has filtered through to Main Street. This chart from Macrobond Financial shows that more companies are planning to raise prices than at any time in the last twenty years.