With uber-dove ECB president Mario Draghi lecturing governments in the European Union to increase spending, here’s a look at what Mr. Draghi is looking at.
The graphic has the year-over-year growth rate in inflation for the U.S, E.U., and BRIC countries.
Inflation in the U.S. and Europe
In the U.S, inflation has been floating around 2% since early 2012. The rate has surprisingly stayed within a narrow band, consistent with the view that growth continues to be moderately positive.
In the E.U. inflation picked up after the housing market-induced financial recession, bottoming in late 2009. Inflation accelerated until late 2011, peaking at around 3%. Since peaking, inflation in the E.U. has quickly improved, with the downward trend now approaching 0%. In Draghi’s mind, the E.U. needs inflation to pick up to prevent a potential deflationary spiral, which could potentially introduce a prolonged recession in the entire European Union if not the world.
The third “low” inflation entity is China. Akin to the U.S., inflation has China has only deteriorated the buying power of consumers by around 2% since early 2012. Interestingly, of the six entities shown, inflation in the U.S. and China has the strongest correlation at 84% since 2007.
Switching to the other three entities that make up the BRICs – Brazil, Russia, and India.
Inflation in Brazil has averaged a little less than 6% over the past 10 years. So far this year, prices have picked up, with inflation now trending close to 7% and in an upward trajectory.
Inflation rate in Russia
In Russia, the average inflation rate over the past 10 years is about 9%. Inflation improved significantly until May 2012, bottoming at around 4%. Since then, the Russian inflation rate has doubled to 8%, with the trend shifting up significantly through the first nine months of 2014.
Lastly, inflation in India has average about 9% since 2007. In November 2013, the inflation rate peaked at around 11%. Since then, inflation has improved significantly, down to about 7% in September 2014, and in an improving direction.
Out of interest, the following table has what the correlation between the six entities’ inflation rates has been since 2007. A green color indicates a high degree of positive correlation. A red color indicates a high degree of negative correlation.
U.S. correlation with China and EU
For the U.S., the highest correlation inflation rates are China (84%) and the EU (82%). The least correlated, but still positively related, are Russia (13%) and Brazil (12%). The only country with a negatively correlated inflation rate is India at -22%.
Overall, global inflation has some stark differences depending on where you live. Whether Draghi is right that higher inflation would improve economic conditions in Europe is simply a philosophical guess. He’s certainly running some risks being so dovish in his outlook.