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Money Moves Markets

Global supply glut signalling goods deflation

April 21, 2023 by Simon Ward

The “monetarist” forecast is that G7 inflation rates will fall dramatically into 2024, mirroring a collapse in nominal money growth in 2021-22.

G7 annual broad money growth returned to its pre-pandemic (2015-19) average of 4.5% in mid-2022. Based on the rule of thumb of a two-year lead, this suggests that annual inflation rates will be around pre-pandemic levels in mid-2024. More recent broad money stagnation signals a likely undershoot.

Pessimists argue that inflation will prove sticky because of high wage growth. Wages are a coincident element of the inflationary process. Low (but rising) wage growth didn’t prevent the 2021-22 inflation surge and high (but moderating) growth isn’t an obstacle to a substantial fall now.

The 2021-22 inflation surge was initially driven by excess demand for goods, due to a combination of covid-related supply disruption, associated precautionary overbuilding of inventories, a spending switch away from services and – most importantly – excessive monetary / fiscal stimulus.

Excess goods demand was reflected in a plunge in the global manufacturing PMI supplier delivery speed index to a record low. This plunge predated the inflation surge by about a year versus a two-year lead from money – see chart 1.

Chart 1

Chart 1 showing G7 Consumer Prices (% yoy), G7 Broad Money (% yoy, lagged 2y) & Global Manufacturing PMI Supplier Delivery Speed (lagged 1y, inverted)

The reverse process is now well-advanced, with supply normalising, firms running down excess inventories, the services spending share rebounding and monetary policies far into overrestrictive territory. The PMI delivery speed index is at its highest level since the depths of the 2008-09 recession, signalling substantial excess goods supply.

Global goods prices are heading into deflation. Chinese reopening has added to excess supply and Asian exporters are already lowering prices in the US – chart 2. Chinese producer prices are falling and the renminbi is competitive, with JP Morgan’s PPI-based real effective rate at its lowest level since 2011. Other Asian currencies are similarly weak.

Chart 2

Chart 2 showing US Import Prices of Goods by Country / Region (% yoy)

The global manufacturing PMI output price index lags and correlates negatively with the delivery speed index. It has plunged from 64 to 53 and is likely to cross below 50 soon. The current prices received balance in the US Philadelphia Fed manufacturing survey turned negative (equivalent to sub-50 in PMI terms) in April, the weakest reading since the 2020 recession.

Global goods deflation will squeeze profits and wage growth in that sector, with knock-on effects on services demand, pay pressures and pricing.

Central bankers are once again asleep at the wheel, pursuing procyclical polices that amplify economic volatility and impose unnecessary costs.

NS Partners Ltd.
April 21st, 2023