Hong Kong: Inflation Further Accelerates To 7.9% In July22 August, 2011, 22:51. Posted by Zarathustra
Tags: Economy, Hong Kong, Inflation
Inflation in Hong Kong continued to rise in July. Headline consumer price index rose by 7.9% compared to a year ago, rising from 5.6% in June. Excluding the effect of all government’s one-off relief measures, the core inflation was 5.8% vs. 5.5% in June. The large discrepancy was due to low base effect on public housing rentals in July last year according to the government. Once again, as I have noted earlier, the CPI(A), which reflects the consumer prices of lower end of household expenditure group (i.e. low-income families) rose by a absurdly high rate of 12.5% vs. 7.9% of the overall headline figure, reflecting that the overall inflationary pressure affect the basket of lower-income families.
Inflation was driven by alcoholic drinks and tobacco, housing, food and others, while year-on-year decrease in prices were recorded for electricity, gas and water, and durable goods.
Source: Census and Statistics Department
Similar to our neighbour: China, the inflation picture in Hong Kong is not looking pretty at the moment, which is not something very surprising given that inflation in China has gone somewhat out of control as well.
One thing I do want to note here, however, is that there is actually a slight price drop of the headline CPI on a month-on-month basis by 0.2%, and even CPI(A) fell by 0.6% on a month-on-month basis. This is something which is rather surprising, though it is not very clear whether this due to seasonality or any real effect. What we can be sure, however, is that in July 2010, we saw a 2.3% drop in headline CPI on a month-on-month basis, confirming the official explanation that the headline figure of 7.9% is more about a reflection of low base effect in 2010, presumably due to one-off relief measures. I don’t want to read too much into one data point, but this is certainly something of particular interest.
Because of the close link between China and Hong Kong (in terms of inflation here), despite the fact that I am no longer expecting Chinese inflation to fall below 4%, I believe that there is a high probability that inflation in China will be somewhat lower in the remaining part of this year, and hence inflationary pressure of Hong Kong will ease, all else being equal. That said, there is a non-negligible probability that Hong Kong may be slipping into a recession because of the potential double dip recession in the US and Europe, as well as a more significant slowdown or hard-landing in China, I also see a non-negligible probability that inflation in Hong Kong will go much lower (or even negative) in the final quarter of 2011 or beginning of next year. The upside risk for inflation, assuming that the economy does not slow, would be whether the People’s Bank of China will give up inflation fighting by easing monetary policy, and somewhat less importantly, what the Federal Reserve may do to support the US economy.