Falling Inflation Offers Leeway for Stimulus

Data released today by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) showed that the annual rate of inflation across developed economies fell for the fifth straight month in July. Consumer prices in the 34 OECD member countries rose by 1.9% in the year that ended in July. That was less than the 2.0% rise in the 12 months to June, and the lowest level since November 2010.

The decline in inflation rates across that many leading economies provides central banks more leeway to cut key interest rates or supply other forms of stimulus to counter the global economic slowdown. U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke last week signaled that he is considering another further quantitative easing, or QE3.

Among OECD members, the annual rate of inflation was highest in Turkey. Prices there rose by 9.1%. But prices in Switzerland were 0.7% lower than in July 2011 and down by 0.4% in Japan over the same period.

Among large developing economies, the inflation rate ticked up sharply in Russia, but also in Brazil and Indonesia. Consumer prices fell most sharply in South Africa, and in China and India to a lesser degree.

An earlier report showed that U.S. consumer prices were flat in July for a second-straight month, and the year-over-year increase was the smallest in more a year and a half, despite inflation fears due to the Midwest drought.

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