All eyes on inflation

The evolution of inflation in the months and quarters to come is one of the most important subjects for the financial markets, with a lot of uncertainties as to the persistence over time of the inflationary pressures that we are currently experiencing. Indeed, for several months now the signs of inflation have been increasing in our economies. The evolution of the price of raw materials is one of the most obvious signs: since the end of 2019 (i.e. before the pandemic begins), iron ore has increased by +133%, copper by + 58%. and aluminum by +33%; and these increases are also found on the agricultural side with wheat rising by 27% and corn by 54% (Source: Bloomberg). For the moment, these increases have mainly had an impact on producer prices, but it is very likely that companies will try to pass them on to consumer prices, especially given the currently high level of savings rates. Real estate markets are also up sharply in most developed economies, such as the United States and Germany, where prices have risen by + 12% over the last 12 months (Source: Bloomberg). These effects are mainly linked to the monetary and budgetary actions undertaken by central banks and governments for a year now, with generalized rate cuts (or an increase in the size of the balance sheet) and stimulus plans on a scale almost never seen since. post-war. These effects also come from the Covid-19 crisis, with a sharp increase in demand for goods to compensate for the non-accessibility of a large part of the services. Coupled with all this, we must also consider the very important base effects that we will experience on inflation figures both in Europe and in the United States. US inflation should indeed accelerate sharply in the next two months, with core inflation expected to approach 4% and “core” inflation around 3%; if the base effects will then subside, “core” inflation (generalized rise in prices, excluding extremely volatile elements such as agricultural or energy commodities) should still remain around 2.5% by the end of 2022, is a level quite sufficient for the American Federal Reserve. The European situation is different since even if there too we will see base effects pushing inflation to 2% at the end of the year, it should then drop quickly to around 1%. Last element, certain sub-components of inflation seem to show signs of a rebound within a few months; this is the real estate component (with the equivalent of rents for rental investments) and this is also the case, for example, for used cars. Beyond the already high expectations, we must therefore take into account a non-zero probability that the figures are stronger than our current estimates. This rise in inflation, coupled with extremely low real rates today, should lead to an increase in US nominal rates in the coming months. It is not at all unthinkable to see the 10-year American at 2% within a few months.