Jun 13, 2022 - World

U.S. inflation rate is in the middle of the pack globally

12-month inflation rate, by country
Data: Moody's Analytics, OECD and Trading Economics; Chart: Baidi Wang/Axios

Inflation in the U.S. is at a 40-year high, but America isn’t alone. Soaring prices are a truly global phenomenon.

The big picture: An analysis of inflation across 111 countries from Deutsche Bank puts the U.S. near the middle of the pack. Among those countries, the median rate of 7.9% year-over-year inflation has more than doubled from 3.0% one year ago, thanks largely to spiking energy and food prices.

Inflation rates from May in western European countries like the Netherlands (+8.8% year-over-year) and Germany (+7.9%) are roughly on par with the U.S. (+8.6%).

As in the U.S. and much of the world, sky-high energy prices exacerbated by the war in Ukraine have been a major driver of inflation in Europe. Energy prices in the U.S. are up 35% over last year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

  • They have spiked even higher (+51%) in the U.K., which like the U.S. recently recorded its highest inflation rate (+9.0%) since the early 1980s, per the Financial Times. The U.K.’s grim economic outlook is deepening concerns about a cost-of-living crisis.

Breaking it down: While inflation is generally high around the world, it’s lower in big Asian economies like China (+2.1%) and Japan (+2.5%) — though both countries have experienced upticks this year.

  • After years of very low inflation, Japan is expected to finally hit the central bank’s 2% target this year. But wages are stagnant and consumers are unaccustomed to the rising prices, per the BBC.
  • China’s lower inflation is explained in part by Beijing’s relatively limited stimulus during the pandemic, strong price controls and weak consumer demand, per WSJ.
  • South Korea, meanwhile, experienced the sharpest increase in inflation in 14 years in May, to 5.4%. President Yoon Suk-yeol warned Friday of a coming economic “typhoon,” per FT.

While countries around the world, including South Korea, are raising interest rates to stem inflation, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has insisted on rate cuts.

  • Turkey’s official inflation rate of 74% is the highest in the G20, and it's likely higher still in reality.
  • The next highest is Argentina (+58%), which has been printing money to help cover its deficit.
  • Several of the biggest economies in Latin America and Africa are also recording double-digit inflation.

What to watch: Food commodity prices are at a record high, according to the World Bank’s index, and have risen sharply since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. The twin rise in energy and food prices is hitting developing countries particularly hard.

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