Now that inflation has become a recognized macroeconomic risk, the nature of its character is increasingly debated. Initially presented as a temporary phenomenon, the rise in prices should take hold over time.
In several world economies, evidence of strong and lasting inflation has been evident since the start of the year. Proof of this change is the attitude of most central banks, which have reversed their monetary policy by now integrating the sustainable nature of current inflation.
Latest decisions: those of the US Federal Reserve (Fed), which raised its key rates by three quarters of a point, the largest increase since 1994. The institution even says that we can expect other increases of the same order in the coming months to combat galloping inflation. Same story with the ECB, which announced a series of rate hikes from July, with an initial hike of 25 bps. A first for more than a decade. The guardians of the Euro have also significantly raised their inflation forecast until 2024. The ECB now expects inflation of 6.8% in 2022, which should then slow to 3.5% in 2023, then to 2.1% (even above the 2% target) in 2024.
Yesterday at an ECB seminar in Portugal, central bankers and economists warned that “the world has swung into an inflationary phase it hasn’t seen since the 1970s and 1980s and it will take time to bring it back down”.
While the Russian-Ukrainian war could last “for years”, according to the NATO chief, supply cuts could keep energy prices high for years to come. Alongside imported inflation, domestic factors can also have a lasting impact. Employees are thus increasingly demanding compensation from their employers, which can fuel inflation a little more. In addition, on the labor market unemployment rates are rather low on average and hiring intentions high, which plays in favor of an increase in wages. And inflation.
Change of perception
In Morocco, the Central Bank and the majority of analysts believe that this phenomenon is transitory. Even if some pressures are more structural, the level of inflation should return to normal in 2023. This optimistic scenario in which inflation would return to around 2.3% in 2023 (according to BAM projections) is however far rest assured, as disruptions to global supply chains could persist beyond 2022. Lower energy prices, with a war in Ukraine looming, meanwhile, is not certain. On the ground, economic operators are already beginning to integrate these more structural aspects of inflation into their investment logic. Ahmed El Yacoubi, Chairman of the Management Board of Société Générale Maroc, explained during his last media outing that“a number of operators are beginning to install inflation as a structural element. In any case, as an item that will last longer. Now, in terms of investment, they are starting to model their projects on the basis of this inflation which can last”.
The CEO of the bank, François Marchal, agreed, saying that“After a wait-and-see period, operators have moved into a logic where inflation is well established. They have started a cycle of price increases to be able to maintain their margins and continue to operate in the current international environment, with an increase in all raw materials for all sectors.. For their part, CDG Capital analysts maintain that inflation could ease in the coming months, as it could also spread more widely in the economic fabric if the rise in prices continues to settle permanently at the international level. .
A guest on the Urgences Économiques program on Finances News, economist Zakaria Firano believes that in terms of inflation projections “The Central Bank has aligned itself with the outlook put forward by the World Bank and the IMF. Do we agree or disagree? Given the uncertainties surrounding the current situation, it is clear that we are not ready to return to the long-term inflation trend (2%: editor’s note)”. He specifies “All the warning signs indicate that there will be tensions in 2023 and 2024. This means that inflation will set in”. Zakaria Farino also recalled the words of the French economist Olivier Blanchard, for whom the world will settle on 3 to 5 years of inflation.
Opposite opinion from the side of the Wali of BAM who explained during the last press conference following the June Council that “having already integrated into its forecasts the impact of the decisions taken within the framework of the social agreement of April 30, 2022, given the nature of the inflationary pressures, essentially of external origin as well as the expected return of inflation to moderate levels in 2023 and to continue to support economic activity…, the Central Bank has kept the policy rate unchanged”. Jouahri insisted on recalling that “Inflation is fueled by external factors, as reflected in the significant acceleration in tradable goods inflation”, specifying that the inflation of non-tradable goods, impacted mainly by internal factors, continues to evolve at a contained level and does not require intervention.
Imported inflation until 2024?
According to the World Bank, the impact on food and energy prices from the war in Ukraine is expected to last several years. In the Commodity Markets Outlook report, the bank estimates that “prices will remain at historically high levels until the end of 2024”. For energy prices alone, the bank expects an increase of more than 50% this year, before a drop in 2023 and 2024. As for those of non-energy goods, such as agricultural products and metals, they should increase by almost 20% in 2022, then also decrease in the following years. However, commodity prices are expected to remain well above the average of the past five years, and in the event of a prolonged war or new sanctions against Russia, they could become even higher and more volatile than currently expected. alert the WB.
What feed more inflation imported by Morocco, which is eroding corporate margins and household savings. Structural or cyclical then? This legitimate question related to inflation is of interest to everyone. If the consensus in Morocco agrees to estimate that the rise in prices recorded so far is only a bump and that it should deflate this year, new elements in the international environment are beginning to invalidate this hypothesis. . To be continued.