Inflation’s Boomerang Effect: Why Premature Cheers End in Tears

Maria Irene

Inflation is a curious beast. It lurks in the corners of global economies, springing forth when least expected, leaving policymakers scrambling to tame its wrath. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently delved into the nuanced world of inflation with their eye-opening paper titled “One Hundred Inflation Shocks: Seven Stylized Facts.” The IMF took the magnifying glass to inflation episodes in 56 countries since the 1970s, underscoring that inflation is far more temperamental than often perceived.

The IMF warns that inflation tends to be a sticky issue, especially following terms-of-trade shocks like oil crises, international disputes, or pandemics. This observation upends the notion that inflation is a fleeting economic bogeyman and underscores its stubborn persistence as a hallmark feature. Now imagine that you’re a country and you’ve just managed to lower your inflation rate. The champagne pops, the good news is announced, and then—surprise!—inflation roars back like a scorned cat. The IMF found that many unresolved inflation episodes involved these kinds of “premature celebrations,” where inflation initially receded, only to later plateau at high levels or speed up all over again.

For those countries that successfully put inflation back in its cage, a tighter monetary policy was often the ticket. There’s also some evidence that a disciplined fiscal approach and a pre-shock groundwork of better inflation anchoring helped. In layman’s terms, countries that conquered inflation maintained a consistent stance of restraint, avoiding the temptation to loosen the reins. Countries that managed to quell inflation also exhibited lower nominal wage growth. Interestingly, this didn’t equate to lower real wage growth because as nominal wages grew slower, so did inflation, creating a sort of economic equilibrium. Moreover, these countries were able to prevent their currencies from depreciating too much, which also helped stabilize inflation rates.

The cost of implementing these anti-inflationary measures isn’t negligible. Countries tend to experience reduced growth in the short term when they tighten their monetary belts. However, this cloud has a silver lining: over a five-year horizon, the short-term hit to growth was offset by the benefits of macroeconomic stability and policy credibility.

In the end, the IMF’s research underscores the need for a nuanced understanding of inflation. The forces that drive it are diverse, and the policies to manage it are equally varied. Policymakers need to resist the urge for premature celebration, keep a consistent policy stance, and be prepared for a long, drawn-out battle with inflation. A dance with inflation is rarely simple or straightforward. It’s a complex choreography that requires skill, timing, and more than a little perseverance. But understanding the moves, as outlined by the IMF, can help countries navigate the dance floor a little more gracefully.


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Maria Irene
Maria Irene
Maria Irene is a multi-faceted journalist with a focus on various domains including Cryptocurrency, NFTs, Real Estate, Energy, and Macroeconomics. With over a year of experience, she has produced an array of video content, news stories, and in-depth analyses. Her journalistic endeavours also involve a detailed exploration of the Australia-India partnership, pinpointing avenues for mutual collaboration. In addition to her work in journalism, Maria crafts easily digestible financial content for a specialised platform, demystifying complex economic theories for the layperson. She holds a strong belief that journalism should go beyond mere reporting; it should instigate meaningful discussions and effect change by spotlighting vital global issues. Committed to enriching public discourse, Maria aims to keep her audience not just well-informed, but also actively engaged across various platforms, encouraging them to partake in crucial global conversations.


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