Inflation is Finally Surprising to the Upside But it Looks Like it’s All About Oil Prices

For the first time since 2011-2012, inflation surprises are positive in many parts of the world. The Citi Inflation Surprise Index is at the highest level since 9/2011 in Asia-Pacific, it’s at the highest level since 10/2011 for the Eurozone, and it’s at the highest level since 5/2012 in the emerging markets. One notable exception is that inflation surprises are still negative in the United States. While this recent bout of positive inflation surprises should repress deflationary fears in many parts of the world, the bad news (depending on your view of oil, I guess) is that it looks like it is all related to oil prices. If oil prices don’t continue to climb higher than expect to see the inflation surprise index fall back once again. In the charts below, we show the various regional inflation surprise indexes against the year-over-year change in oil prices. As we noted last week, oil prices are up over 90% on a year-over-year basis. However, if oil prices remain range bound for the next several months, the year-over-year change will drop to about 10% by the end of April. If this ends up happening, than inflation surprises will most likely fall as well.