Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus together account for 11 per cent of global oil and 17 per cent of global natural gas, more than 10 per cent of global barley and wheat, and 20 per cent of global potash. They also are important sources of numerous metals, mining, and precious stones. The disruption to global—and especially European—supply chains is already being felt.
While many other factors could dictate the ultimate path of both prices and economic expansion, we look at the moves in key energy and food prices that could put upward pressure on global inflation and pose a challenge for economic growth.
Energy and food prices have already shot up====
Oil, gas, wheat, and potash prices have all been on an upward trend for more than a year, with a recent sharp acceleration. Potash is a critical component of fertilizer and an important input into agricultural production; scarce or more expensive potash could put additional strain on food prices.
Higher energy prices were a big part of 2021 inflation
Inflation rose sharply across many regions of the globe in 2021, with the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) recording 7.2 per cent annual consumer price inflation (CPI). Energy constituted more than 25 per cent of that increase among OECD countries last year. Food was a much smaller contributor. However, with grain prices as well as many commodity inputs higher, the potential for CPI to rise further in 2022, including from food, is top of mind.
Rising commodity prices suggest higher headline inflation ahead
Brandywine Global’s calculations on various countries’ CPI basket composition suggest that for a 10 per cent increase in energy prices, headline CPI could rise from as little as 0.05 per cent to as high as 0.57 per cent, depending on each country’s energy use, source of their energy, price subsidies, and other factors. In addition, a 10 per cent increase in food prices could trigger an increase in CPI of as little as 0.09 per cent to as much as 1.26 per cent. As oil prices are approximately twice where they were a year ago, and wheat—as a main component of food—has increased nearly as much, the impact on CPI could be material. Some emerging markets may be disproportionately impacted by food prices because of the heavier weights of food in their CPI baskets.
Historically, higher energy prices are a headwind for real GDP growth
While many different factors will influence the level of real economic expansion, historically higher oil prices have moved in the opposite direction as gross domestic product (GDP). In other words, when oil prices go higher, economic growth slows, and when oil prices ease, GDP reaccelerates. The recent increase in crude prices is expected to be a headwind for economic activity.
What are the risks?
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These risks are magnified in emerging markets. Commodities and currencies contain heightened risk that include market, political, regulatory, and natural conditions and may not be suitable for all investors
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Katie Klingensmith, investment specialist at Brandywine Global, part of Franklin Templeton Group