Breakingviews

Enjoy UK’s economic idyll while it lasts

January 21, 2015

Britain seems to have reached the sunny uplands. Earnings are rising faster than prices, unemployment is falling and policy rate rises are off the agenda. But persistent disinflation casts a dark shadow. If prices stop rising, wage increases may also disappear.

Bitcoin is latest victim of disinflation

By Edward Hadas
January 16, 2015

The would-be currency is down 33 pct this year. Bitcoin is a collectible like a painting so psychology matters, and that’s against it in the current climate. Free transactions could end too. The tech may have value, but bitcoin will struggle to regain lost confidence.

Falling prices show ECB failed at its only mandate

January 7, 2015

Euro zone inflation is now negative. Sinking oil prices played a part, but market expectations were falling well before. The European Central Bank has long been seen as doing too little, too late. No wonder investors have lost faith in the bank’s ability to fulfill its mission.

Inflation could make a surprise comeback

By Edward Hadas
December 24, 2014

Price and wage increases look like endangered economic species. Falling commodity prices make it hard to imagine a comeback. But many policymakers would welcome a return of mild inflation. They might eventually get more than they want.

Cheap oil worsens Asian debtors’ lowflation woes

November 28, 2014

Sliding energy prices could make already-low Asian inflation vanish. That’s bad news for heavily indebted economies like China, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. If prices and wages don’t rise, borrowers will curb spending. Slowing GDP growth could stumble.

Remember the UK housing bubble?

November 26, 2014

Not long ago an overheating housing market was seen by many as the big UK danger. Now mortgage approvals are dropping and house inflation is easing – even though mortgages are getting cheaper. Tighter home-loan regulation is a factor. Workers’ low earnings are the main restraint.

Cheap oil is no tonic for sluggish Asian economies

October 17, 2014

Less expensive petrol and diesel mean smaller subsidy bills and healthier budgets in India and Indonesia. For others in the region, though, falling crude prices are a worrying sign of stalling global growth. Asia has too much debt to welcome disinflation.

Weaker euro won’t do much to stoke inflation

October 16, 2014

The ECB not-so-secretly hopes a cheaper currency will boost euro zone inflation. Good luck. The fall in dollar-denominated commodity prices is deflationary. And with demand weak, firms will struggle to pass on higher import prices. Only a huge euro slump would bring real relief.

Asset price disinflation may be next big thing

By Edward Hadas
October 6, 2014

Iron ore led the way, oil is following and stocks may be joining the bandwagon. Even some hot property markets are cooling. Less ultra-loose U.S. monetary policy is blamed, but this looks more like the spread of a disinflationary tide. If so, safe bond prices will keep rising.

Commodity bear market looks entrenched

September 29, 2014

A rising dollar, the prospect of U.S. rate rises, and moderating Chinese growth are casting long shadows over the asset class. The threats to the bear case are strong supply-side responses, or successful economic stimulation by the ECB. Neither looks very likely.