The Hong Kong Monetary Authority just published its Quarterly Bulletin on economic conditions in Hong Kong and around the planet. The HKMA concludes that inflation is tame overall:
“Inflationary pressure eased further, as the underlying inflation rate tapered to a year-on-year 3.8% in October from 4.5% in June. The sequential pressure moderated slightly to an annualised 3.1% on a three-month-on-three-month comparison. This reflected waning food price inflation and moderation in price increases for other major CPI components.”
The slowly growing economy is expected to continue to keep inflation at bay. However, this calm surface masks a still roiling property market. Indeed, the HKMA believes the property market is well ahead of the economy given meager gains in income:
“In the property market, the disconnect between housing prices and economic fundamentals appeared to have become more acute. In contrast to tepid income growth, housing prices surged by a cumulative 23.2% in the year to October. Housing affordability deteriorated as a result, with both the price-to-income ratio and the mortgage payment-to-income ratio rising to their post-1997 highs.”
This is likely a matter of cheap money finding a home somewhere. In this case it is the property market. The government has responded to the growing problem with a series of taxes that seem to be moderating demand.
The HKMA places partial blame for inflationary pressures in the property market on the the Federal Reserve’s recent rounds of quantitative easing:
“Risks to inflation have also increased with additional quantitative easing in the US, through its potential impact on global commodity prices and local property prices.”
Note that the HKMA recognizes that QE in the U.S. will drive commodity prices higher. This dynamic is something Ben Bernanke has refused to acknowledge. With the Federal Reserve adding a “stealth” QE4 in the December statement, I will look to commodity prices to catch bids in 2013…and for central banks to work to try to counter-act the moves of the Federal Reserve.