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In the wake of a blisteringly fast economic recovery have come bottlenecks, supply shortages and inflation. Over the summer the US Federal Reserve’s favoured measure of inflation hit the highest levels in almost 30 years. Unexpected though it is, today’s inflation surge is widely seen as temporary.
Central banks think that high inflation is a product of the exceptional circumstances of the pandemic. There’s plenty of room to argue about timing and the eventual peak, but most forecasters agree that inflation will subside through next year.
But what if they’re wrong, and inflation breaks far above expectations, much as growth took leave of any imaginable forecast last year? It wouldn’t be the first time financial markets and economists have been badly wrongfooted.
Please join me and Deloitte’s CEO, Richard Houston, for our annual ‘Back to school’ webinar on the global economic outlook on Tuesday, 14 September, 13:00–14:00 BST. To register please visit: https://event.webcasts.com/starthere.jsp?ei=1488656&tp_key=c8a8828cba
The dislocation between supply and demand created by the pandemic is starting to weigh on the recovery. Growth is being held back by supply problems, labour shortages and rising prices. Along with the effects of the Delta variant, such supply issues led to a sharp drop in China’s Caixin index of service activity in August, leaving the sector contracting for the first time since COVID-19 hit early last year. In the US Friday’s payroll data, one of the most important economic releases of the month, came in far below market expectations. Respondents to the UK manufacturing PMI index blamed shortages of materials, shipping capacity and staff for decelerating output growth in August.
The V-shaped recovery from the pandemic has brought with it supply shortages and rising prices. From semiconductors to McDonalds milkshakes, stories of shortages abound.
There may still be a few readers of the Monday Briefing who were early adopters, back in 2008. If so they may recall my enthusiasm for antique furniture as, “a functional, proven asset at a low price”. Prices may have looked low then, but in the ensuing 13 years they have, by and large, fallen still further. In a world where the value of equities, bonds, commodities and houses have soared the value of antique furniture has slumped. This week’s briefing looks at what’s behind this decline.
The pandemic triggered a vast experiment in remote working. Just as the industrial revolution moved workers from the countryside to urban centres, and the automobile era moved residential life to the suburbs, the pandemic has the capacity to remake the nature of work, and where it is done.
Economic shocks tend to hold back house prices. But one of this pandemic’s peculiarities has been how it has supported housing markets. Despite bringing about the sharpest downturn in almost a century, the pandemic has fuelled a housing boom in the developed world.
Our summer quiz offers an eclectic test of knowledge, of pandemic-related developments, many in economics and business. The answers and a brief explanation of the factors at work are at the end of the quiz.
You may not have been able to get to your preferred holiday haunt this year, but we hope that our summer reading list will offer a distraction wherever you spend your summer break. The eight articles are available free online, although some websites restrict the number of articles that can be accessed without charge each month.
So far 2021 has been a year of improving global economic prospects, particularly in advanced economies. The rollout of vaccines and an easing of restrictions across the West have underpinned a strong recovery in activity – albeit one marked, increasingly, by surging cases of the Delta variant.
Deloitte’s latest survey of UK chief financial officers, released overnight, shines light on the plans of Britain’s largest corporates as the economy reopens. The full report is available at: https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/finance/articles/deloitte-cfo-survey.html