Falling oil and consumer prices

Authors Mortensen, Anne Ulstrup; Staghøj, Jonas
Subject Inflation, wages and prices
Type Monetary Review  
Year 2015
Published 21 April 2015
Link to publication Monetary review, 1st Quarter 2015
Consumer prices have fallen over the last year, not least because the price of crude oil halved from the summer of 2014 to January 2015. In January, the overall consumer price index was thus lower than a year earlier. A negative annual rate of increase in the consumer price index is not the same as deflation, however. Instead, the term deflation can reasonably be used to describe a period of general and sustained price falls. In the current situation, there is no prospect of consumer prices continuing to fall, and wage growth is also positive. Hence, there is no deflation. The direct effect of the oil price fall on the rate of increase in consumer prices is temporary, unless oil prices decline further. Thus, the actual risk of undesirable price developments is that the substantial price fall will spread to other goods and services via the wage formation. This could exacerbate the immediate price fall and ultimately trigger a negative self-reinforcing wage-price spiral. The risk of that happening remains limited.