Haunted by Low Inflation

In Economy, The Upshot On

There is a worldwide glut that includes oil wells, steel plants and eager would-be workers, and it will take more than a United States presidential election and a few months of solid global growth to fix it.

That, in a sentence, is the reality that haunts the world economy a third of the way through 2017.

For years, low inflation across most of the advanced world was part of a vicious cycle featuring onerous debt burdens and low growth. Major central banks struggled to lift inflation to the 2 percent annual rate they aim for.

Finally, after an uptick in oil prices in 2016 and an abrupt shift in sentiment after Donald J. Trump’s election in November, it looked as if the world economy might be getting jolted out of that cycle. Some called it the Trumpflation effect. But it now seems that proclamations of victory were premature, and that the low-inflation world will be with us for at least a while longer.

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