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High inflation nothing to panic over given strong GDP growth

Posted by cavenui trên Tháng Mười Một 9, 2007

By Lan Phuong

Officials last week reported October prices surged by an unexpectedly high 9.34 per cent year-on-year, and warned that inflation could exceed the Government’s upper limit of 8.5 per cent for 2007. Nicholas Kwan, regional head of research at Standard Chartered Bank, discussed the country’s monetary and forex policies, and efforts to curb inflation. Parts of the interview are below.

Do you think inflation has crossed a safe threshold? What is Standard Chartered Bank’s forecast for 2007 inflation?

There are different explanations for the inflation numbers. What I myself tend to subscribe to is that this is a high growth economy that is very cheap in terms of costs and factory prices. So, your production growth has been relatively high either because of a low base or lots of improvements being made through reform, through investments over the years.

It is not too surprising then to see inflation at this level, and if you take into account the quality of data itself there are two different issues here: one is to what extent you think 8 per cent is really 8 per cent.

Secondly, different groups of people will have different feelings about inflation. It is normal that different people will tell you that what the Government reports is underestimated, which is good in the sense that if the data’s right those people belong to a privileged part of the economy.

Normally when an economy is growing, people in a higher income group or a preferential group may feel inflation pressures more.

What you are given [in the consumer price index, a key measure of inflation] is a natural benchmark that averages out over several income brackets.

For developing economies in general, the low income group accounts for a large part of the population, so their consumption basket is very different.

When the economy grows fast, high end products which are in stronger demand by higher income groups grow faster [in terms of price]. So, they will feel the impact of inflation much more than normal, particularly in cities…

If you look at an economy growing at 8-9 per cent with a consistent level of inflation over the last two years of around 8 per cent, the current inflation figure is not excessive.

Standard Chartered Bank’s inflation forecast for the year is 8 per cent, up from a previous estimate of 7.6 per cent. Inflation for 2008 is estimated at 8.5 per cent, up from 8.2 per cent, due to more risks to food and energy prices.

Some central bank and National Assembly officials have recommended that the country ends its policy of keeping inflation below economic growth?

The policy itself is interesting, but in an indirect way if we expect real growth rate to be somewhere in the 7-10 per cent range, which seems to be where we are at the moment, it implies our inflation should be below that level.

Whether or not that level is desirable, I think depends on in which part of the [monetary] cycle we are. Definitely, we do not want a higher inflation number. Anything in double digits, we should need to be more careful.

In a way you can argue this policy is not robustly constructed, but it has an impact of setting a sort of ceiling on the kind of inflation the Government is willing to tolerate or allow. At least it is something, which better than nothing…

I will not say Viet Nam’s inflation rate is safe or not, but that everything is all right.

It seems the central bank has not decided on where, when, how they plan to buy US dollars, which has caused the Vietnamese dong to appreciate. What are your opinions on this and its impact on inflation?

I definitely think monetary management or capital flow investment management pressures inflation. But as I said, we should not consider inflation on a single factor, for instance food prices or import prices. You may argue that to use stronger monetary management may help to some extent, but you don’t know how efficient it is.

On the other hand, tightening money supply policy cannot help you produce more food, so there are different sources of inflation which require different responses in monetary management.

What I can say is strong capital inflows in terms of direct investments, remittances and portfolio investments is something that the State Bank of Viet Nam should work towards to make sure it will not generate excessive liquidity in the system.

From what we understand, capital inflow so far have been largely sterilised by the State Bank already. Of course, there is still concern that if the inflow gets larger the State Bank will not be able to limit liquidity because they have limited tools to sterilise paper…

There is still more to do, but so far this year foreign capital inflows have been largely sterilised by the State Bank. I do not take foreign capital inflows as a major factor behind inflation.

More likely, inflation pressure comes from factors that we cannot control.

What do you think of Viet Nam’s exchange rate policy?

I guess we have to think through the basic principles behind reserve management. Increasingly, you see other central banks, particularly those with mega-sized reserves, trying to set aside a part of those reserves for reciprocation as well as for returns and strategic reasons.

China, for example, set up a US$200 billion fund to try and increase the returns on the reserves as well as diversify the risk from currency as well as different portfolios, and also to build up strategic reserves in terms of natural resources or corporate holdings for the country’s long-term development.

I think that could be something this country will move toward in the longer run, but in the immediate future I think the bulk of the reserve will still be for liquidity management purposes and volatility management purposes, which means that this is money set aside to defend or support your external payment position, your currency stability, and to cover whatever payment or unexpected volatility arise in the financial system. For those purposes, you have two requirements: one is liquidity, and two is liability management.

You have to look at what are your liabilities and assets. If your liability is in US dollars while you pump most of your currency into euros, in times of stress you might not have enough US dollars to make payments, and that is the last thing you want…

The first criteria and most important criteria is to make sure that you are safe, that when there is stress this asset can be converted to cover your liability. In that sense, there is a limit to how much you can diversify. Policies shouldn’t be dictated so much by how exchange rates fluctuate on the world market, but more on your own situation.

But some sort of diversification is the general global trend, and not just because people believe the US dollar will weaken – we take a
slightly different view in this regard – but also because the dollar’s role in international finance is declining.

(Vietnam News: 1/11/2007)


2 phản hồi to “High inflation nothing to panic over given strong GDP growth”

  1. Gaup said

    Có một vấn đề mà ai ai cũng có vẻ nhầm là cái chuyện người ta cứ cố gắng đòi tỷ lệ lạm phát phải thấp hơn tốc độ tăng trưởng của nền kinh tế. Đọc rất nhiều nơi thấy có cái loại lý lẽ thế này: rằng nếu tăng trưởng là 8% nhưng giá cả lại tăng 9% thì như thế là không những không tăng trưởng mà lại còn thụt lùi đi.

    Kỳ lạ là cái lỗi sai này quá nhiều người bị mắc. Không chỉ người ko có chuyên môn về kinh tế mà kể cả những người tự xưng là chiên gia kinh tế, không chỉ có các ông bà nhà mình mà kể cả một số cơ quan truyền thông Mỹ như các đài rfa, voa, vv. Trong bài phỏng vấn này rõ ràng người phỏng vấn hiểu sai, người trả lời phỏng vấn hiểu đúng nhưng lại giả định rằng người phỏng vấn cũng hiểu như mình, thế rồi người phỏng vấn hỏi xong và nghe trả lời xong cũng ko hiểu thằng tây nó nói cái gì.

    Sự việc hết sức đơn giản. Mức độ tăng trưởng thông báo, như 8% – 10% vv đều là tốc độ tăng trưởng thực. Thực tức là không phải mức tăng danh nghĩa hay nói đúng ra như sách viết thì là rằng bằng mức tăng danh nghĩa trừ đi mức tăng giá (tức tỷ lệ lạm phát). Có nghĩa là trước khi thông báo tốc độ tăng trưởng (cứ tạm giả sử là con số thống kê này tin cậy được) thì người ta đã quy đổi GDP danh nghĩa của năm hiện tại về giá của một năm gốc, sau đó tính tỷ suất tăng trưởng năm này trên năm trước cũng tính bằng giá của năm gốc (year on year base year price). Do quy đổi về năm gốc cũng tương tự như vô hiệu hóa mức tăng giá, cách tính này tương tự với cách tính tăng GDP danh nghĩa rồi trừ đi mức lạm phát. Tốc độ tăng yoy% GDP thực không còn liên quan gì đến mức lạm phát nữa. Nếu cứ nằng nặc đòi nó phải cao hơn mức tăng giá (lạm phát) thì là đòi phải trừ đi mức tăng giá những tận hai lần.

    Mỗi lần đọc thấy những cái bức xúc của các đại biểu quốc hội về tăng trưởng và tăng giá với này kia mà thấy mệt quá đi.

  2. Gaup said

    Các bác xem thêm và tự tính toán với số liệu ở link này:

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