巴黎银行:油价下跌对欧元区通胀的直接影响和间接影响
2016-03-10 08:45:27
巴黎银行:油价下跌对欧元区通胀的直接影响和间接影响(2016.03.10)

  提要:2015年秋季以来的油价下跌将压低2016年欧元区通胀率,令其保持在极度低位。油价波动通过影响消费价格指数中的能源价格成分,会对通胀率产生迅速的直接影响。另一方面,油价还会对产品和服务价格产生间接影响,尤其是影响企业生产成本。这两方面的第一轮价格变化效应会影响总体价格水平,但不会对通胀走势产生持久性影响。然而,如果油价下跌对价格预期和经济主体的行为产生持久的影响,就会对欧元区价格稳定构成威胁。

  (外脑精华·北京)虽然近期油价有所回升,但其波动区间仍远低于2015年秋季的水平,也远低于当时各方预计的水平。2015年11月中旬,欧洲央行预计2016年布伦特原油价格平均52.2美元/桶。在1月底,市场预期降至38美元/桶。如果在未来几周没有惊人的反弹,欧洲央行新的预期将在3月10日公布,可能下调2016年通胀预期,可能从12月1.1%的预期值下调至0%。

  油价波动对通胀的直接影响

  原油价格波动对于通胀有快速、直接的影响,能源产品价格占消费者价格指数的10%。这一部分主要包括运输和家庭取暖的液体燃料。价格依赖于原油价格,炼制和配送利润,以及税率。

  两个因素尤为重要。首先,税收负担有一定优势,占汽、柴油价格的一半以上。他们基本上独立于原油价格。对单位数量征收固定数额税费。增值税适用于汽油税前价格加上消费税:换言之,部分税基是固定的。第二,虽然炼油利润较大,但配送利润相对固定,这表明他们在绝对值方面是固定的,并非是占石油价格比例。

  事实上,固定成本占汽油价格较大比例,导致了一个主要特征:能源价格弹性对于石油价格增长而言,是石油价格水平的功能。换句话说,越高的石油价格,对于CPI能源波动影响越大。石油价格下降50%时的通缩影响,以50欧元成交并不会超过以100欧元成交。第一种情况下,固定成本比例相对较高,原油价格下降对于汽油终端影响较低。

  欧洲央行2010年曾估算过能源消费价格对原油价格的弹性。当布伦特原油价格为100欧元时,弹性为42%,布伦特原油价格为40欧元时,弹性仅为26%。基于这些估计,布伦特原油价格下降--自11月中43欧元降至1月底30欧元--将使得能源价格通胀降低0.78%。

  第一轮间接影响

  除了这些快速、直接的影响,也有更多的扩散,间接影响出现于企业生产成本的变化以及商品和服务如何传递到销售价格。这些间接影响适用于核心通胀,不包括能源和食品。自然,最大影响在于能源密集型产品,比如运输服务和制药生产。然而进口占生产成本较大比例,以及欧元区终端消费,相对低能耗产品通胀同样受到影响,当石油价格波动时,商品和服务向欧洲出口销售价格改变。

  间接影响的规模主要取决于同利润相关的企业行为。从这个角度上,2个因素必须考虑。首先,随着竞争的提升,有较强的趋势把低石油价格带到消费价格中。第二,对于已有的竞争,经济周期情况是关键所在:在需求低迷周期,较低生产成本可能会带到销售价格中。欧洲央行预计石油价格核心通胀弹性为20%。在这一情况,11月中到1月底,布伦特原油价格下降30%,将对核心通胀产生0.6%的下行压力。

  还有几个其他因素必须考虑在内。首先,欧洲央行继续表示这些间接影响发挥作用会在3年之后。第二,弹性预估,基于原油价格交易在60-80美元间的假设。类似直接影响,这些间接影响在价格较低时影响没有那么强劲。最后,生产成本取决于很多因素,就进口而言,主要依赖欧元有效汇率过去的波动。尽管自11月中以来,有效汇率升值5%,过去一年显著下降。近期工业商品和服务通胀趋势表明,核心通胀疲软主要由于欧洲低迷的经济环境,而非外部因素。

  第二轮间接影响

  原则上,首轮影响--不论直接或间接--对于价格总体水平有影响,但是不会持续影响通胀。即便不反弹,石油价格将迟早停止阻碍通胀。

  因此,通胀下降归因于较低石油价格本身并不是一个值得关注的原因,因为欧洲央行的任务是关注中期通胀前景。从这个角度来看,促进家庭购买力和消费者支出,石油价格下降是一个积极的发展。

  石油价格下降对于价格稳定是一个问题,这会引发第二轮影响,预期和经济机构行动的持续变化。较低的通胀预期限制工资形成,这将拉低预期,形成可能会引发通货紧缩的恶心循环。

  欧洲央行行长马里奥·德拉吉2月份在欧洲议会发表讲话时指出:“最近一波通货紧缩主要由于石油价格再次下降,工资增长低于预期,以及通胀预期下降,引发了对于一些渠道的严密分析,实现通胀将对未来价格和工资的影响。”这一分析将在3月公布,欧洲央行第10次公布其新宏观经济前景。

  第二轮影响实现是否依赖于冲击的环境。欧洲央行指出2个关键因素:经济周期状况和央行信贷。明显的是,通缩的冲击不会对中期价格动态产生相同的影响,如果通胀接近2%,预期已经固定,目前的环境通胀接近0%,预期处于下降过程中。此外,欧洲央行已经有3年没有满足通胀目标,他同样面临着维持信誉的挑战。

  2014年4月德拉吉在讲话中指出了欧洲央行的反应函数。他表示,面对由于大规模供应侧冲击导致的中期通胀预期下降时,通胀处于低位,适当的回应是欧洲央行增强其量化宽松力度。目前德拉吉提升了3月份进一步放宽货币政策的可能性,增加量化宽松的机会成熟。这将使得欧元区充分受益于石油价格下降以及中期通胀的积极影响。

  

  英文原文:Oil and inflation: between rounds

■The new drop-off in oil prices since fall 2015 should place a significant drag on inflation in 2016. As a result, inflation could be nil this year, as it was last year.

■Oil price fluctuations have a rapid and direct impact on inflation via the energy component of the consumer price index.

■This direct impact is also accompanied by indirect effects on the prices of goods and services, notably by modifying production costs for companies.

■In both cases, these first-round effects have an impact on the general level of prices, but do not have a lasting impact on inflation dynamics.

■The decline in oil prices becomes problematic for price stability when it triggers second-round effects, i.e. a lasting change in the expectations and behaviour of economic agents.

Although oil prices have picked up over the past few days, they have been fluctuating around a low level of about USD 35 a barrel, far below the prices of fall 2015, and a far cry from the recovery scenario projected at the time. In mid-November, when the ECB made its technical assumptions based on market expectations for oil prices used to prepare its December macroeconomic projections, Brent crude oil prices were expected to average USD 52.2 a barrel in 2016. At the end of January, market expectations had fallen to an average of about USD 38. Without a spectacular rebound in the weeks ahead, the new ECB projections to be presented on 10 March (based on market expectations for oil prices at mid-February) should indicate a net downward revision in the 2016 inflation forecast, which could be slashed to 0% from the December figure of 1.1%.

Direct impact of oil price fluctuations on inflation

Crude oil price fluctuations have a rapid, direct impact on inflation through the prices of energy products, which account for about 10% of the consumer price index. This component is comprised mainly of liquid fuel for transport and home heating1 . Its price depends on crude oil prices, refining and distribution margins, as well as taxes (excise duty, VAT).

Two factors are particularly important. First, there is the preponderant weight of taxes, which account for a little more than half of the pump prices for petrol and diesel. They are largely independent of crude oil prices. The excise duty is a fixed amount per unit in volume. VAT applies to the pre-tax price of petrol plus the excise tax: in other words, part of the tax base is fixed. Second, although refining margins can vary widely, distribution margins are relatively constant, which suggest that they are fixed in absolute value terms and not as a percentage of oil prices.

The fact that fixed costs account for such a big share of pump prices results in a major characteristic: the elasticity of energy prices to oil prices increases as a function of the level of oil prices. In other words, the higher the price of oil, the higher the effects of its fluctuation on the CPI energy. The deflationary impact of a 50% decline in oil prices is not as strong when oil is trading at EUR 50 than when it is trading at EUR 100. In the first case, the share of fixed costs is comparatively higher, and the drop in crude oil prices has less of an effect on end pump prices.

In an August 2010 article 2 , the European Central Bank (ECB) estimated the elasticity of consumer prices for energy relative to crude oil prices. Elasticity was estimated at 42% when Brent crude oil was trading at EUR 100, but “only” 26% when oil was trading at EUR 40. Based on these estimates, the decline in Brent crude oil prices – which dropped from EUR 43 in mid-November to EUR 30 in late January – should result in a 0.78 point decline in energy price inflation (10%*30%*26%).

Indirect first-round effects

In addition to these rapid, direct effects (between 3 and 5 weeks), there are also more diffuse, indirect effects arising from changes in production costs for companies and how they are passed on to the sales prices of goods and services. These indirect effects apply to core inflation, i.e. excluding energy and food products. Naturally, the biggest impact is on energy-intensive products, such as transport services and pharmaceutical products. Yet with imports making up such a big proportion of production costs and end consumption in the eurozone, inflation of relatively low energy-intensive products can also be affected when oil price fluctuations change the sales prices of goods and services in countries exporting to the eurozone.

The size of indirect effects depends crucially on corporate behaviour with regard to margins. In this perspective, two factors must be taken into consideration. First, as the degree of competition increases, there is a stronger tendency to carry over lower oil prices to consumer prices. Second, for a given degree of competition, the cyclical position of the economy is key: during periods of sluggish demand, lower production costs are more likely to be carried over to sales prices. The ECB estimates the elasticity of core inflation to oil price at 20%3. In this case, the 30% decline in Brent crude oil prices between mid-November and late January would place downward pressure on core inflation of 0.6 points.

Yet several other factors must also be taken into account. First, the ECB went on to say that the full impact of these indirect effects is felt after three years. Second, its elasticity estimate was based on the assumption that crude oil prices were trading at USD 60-80. Like direct effects, however, these indirect effects tend not to be as strong when prices are low. Lastly, production costs depend on numerous factors, and as far as imports are concerned, they crucially depend on past fluctuations in the euro's effective exchange rate. Although the effective exchange rate has appreciated by about 5% since mid- November, it has declined sharply over the past year. Recent inflation trends for industrial goods and services suggest that the sluggishness of core inflation is due more to Europe’s depressed economic situation rather than to external factors (see chart 2).

Indirect second-round effects

In principle, first-round effects - whether direct or indirect - have an impact on the general level of prices but do not have a lasting impact on inflation dynamics. Even if they don't rebound, oil prices will sooner or later stop dragging down inflation.

Consequently, the decline in inflation attributed to lower oil prices is not, in itself, a big cause for concern for the ECB as its mandate is focused on medium-term inflation prospects. From this perspective, by boosting household purchasing power and consumer spending, the decline in oil prices is a positive development.

The decline in oil prices becomes problematic for price stability when it triggers second-round effects, i.e. a lasting change in the expectations and behaviour of economic agents. Lower inflation expectations strain wage formation which in turn pulls down expectations, creating a vicious circle that could lead to deflation.

In a speech before European parliament members this week4, Mario Draghi stated that "while the most recent wave of disinflation is mainly due to the renewed sharp fall in oil prices, weaker than anticipated growth in wages together with declining inflation expectations call for careful analysis of the channels by which surprises to realised inflation may influence future price and wage-setting in our economy". This analysis will be published in March, 10th when the ECB presents its new macroeconomic outlook.

Whether or not second-round effects materialise depends on the conditions under which the shock occurs. The ECB points out two key factors: the economy's cyclical position and the central bank's credibility. Clearly, a deflationary shock would not have the same impact on medium-term price dynamics if inflation was closer to 2% and expectations were well anchored, than in the current situation, with inflation nearing 0% and expectations in decline. Moreover, at a time when the ECB has not met its inflation target for nearly three years, it also faces the challenge of maintaining credibility.

In a very insightful speech made in April 2014, Mr. Draghi carefully spelled out the ECB's reaction function. In particular, he stated that faced with a decline in medium-term inflation expectations resulting from a substantial supply-side shock at a time of low inflation, the appropriate response would be for the ECB to strengthen its quantitative easing programme. Now that Mr. Draghi has raised the possibility of a further easing of monetary policy in March, the opportunity seems ripe for increasing QE. It would allow the Eurozone to fully benefit from falling oil prices and their positive effects on medium-term inflation.

来源:巴黎银行,作者:Thibault Mercier
作者:Thibault

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