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Inflation round-up

To the relief of central bankers around the world, neither the war in Gaza nor Houthi rebels' missiles aimed at ships in the Red Sea has been disruptive enough to blow up global inflation. However, they will be less pleased that the recent downward trend in price pressures has nevertheless got stuck at a higher level than they would have liked.

Inflation news in the last two months has been very mixed: natural gas prices plunged in the United States and Europe, but 'gas' (petrol) went up in most places; grain prices tumbled following forecasts of good harvests, but rice costs soared; iron ore indices plummeted, while copper prices jumped higher; wage rises continued to be substantial in some countries, including Japan, but moderated in the United Kingdom and elsewhere; US inflation went up again in February, but the EU's went down. Meanwhile, our high-inflation table (below) has exactly the same number of countries as last time. No wonder central banks around the world are seeking clearer direction for prices before they cut interest rates.

One country where inflation had properly slumped is China. Prices actually fell over four consecutive months, but the tide has turned there too and latest official annual inflation leapt from -0.7% in January to 0.8% in February. Other central banks had hoped China would export some of its disinflationary tendencies to the rest of the world, as it did for several decades until recently, but that now seems less likely.

In other news, Cuba has slashed fuel subsidies, bringing prices close to the global average, but the move will increase inflation, which already stands at 31.3%.

Finally, Kuwait, which originally planned to introduce sales tax (VAT) in 2018, along with other Gulf Cooperation Council countries, has announced it now won't do so before 2028 at least.

High-inflation countries (annual CPI 10%+)

Country CPI % Data month Trend IMF 2024 forecast %
Angola 24.1 Feb-24 ▲ Rising 22.3
Argentina 276.2 Feb-24 ▲ Rising 93.7
Burundi 17.8 Feb-24 ▼ Falling 16.1
Congo DR 45.8 Nov-23 ▲ Rising 10.6
Cuba 31.3 Dec-23 ► Steady n/a
Egypt 35.7 Feb-24 ▲ Rising 32.2
Ethiopia 28.2 Feb-24 ► Steady 20.7
Gambia 16.2 Jan-24 ▼ Falling 12.3
Ghana 23.2 Feb-24 ► Steady 23.2
Haiti 20.9 Jan-24 ▼ Falling 13.4
Iran 35.8 Feb-24 ▼ Falling 32.5
Laos 25.4 Feb-24 ► Steady 9.0
Lebanon 177.3 Jan-24 ▼ Falling n/a
Liberia 10.1 Oct-23 ► Steady 8.0
Malawi 33.5 Feb-24 ► Steady 19.8
Myanmar 28.6 Jun-23 ▲ Rising 7.8
Nigeria 31.7 Feb-24 ▲ Rising 23.0
Pakistan 23.1 Feb-24 ▼ Falling 23.6
Sierra Leone 47.4 Jan-24 ▼ Falling 29.8
Surinam 29.6 Jan-24 ▼ Falling 30.9
Syria 150.0 Aug-23 ▲ Rising n/a
Turkey 67.1 Feb-24 ▲ Rising 62.5
Venezuela 75.9 Feb-24 ▼ Falling 200.0
Zambia 13.5 Feb-24 ▲ Rising 9.6
Zimbabwe 47.6 Feb-24 ▲ Rising 222.4
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