“It is possible that Portugal, in addition to internal pressure, will start importing inflation, so inflation could approach 4%”, said Pedro Lino, economist and executive chairman (CEO) of Optimize Investment Partners.
The increase in inflation in recent months has generated debate among political and institutional decision makers as to whether this will be a transitory phenomenon, increasing pressure on the timing for the withdrawal of stimulus from central banks.
The year-on-year inflation rate in the euro zone reached the barrier of 5% in December, a new maximum since the beginning of the series in 1997, above the 4.9% in November and -0.3% in December 2020, according to Eurostat data. In the European Union, the upward trend in prices continued, comparing the 5.3% in December 2021 with the 5.2% of the previous month and the 0.3% of the same period last year.
Portugal recorded a year-on-year inflation rate in December of 2.8%, the second lowest among European Union countries, with Malta recording a rate of 2.6% and Finland of 3.2%. The highest were registered in Estonia (12%), Lithuania (10.7%) and Poland (8.0%).
“I admit that this 5%-5.5% zone [in the euro zone] should mark the top, but I do not expect inflation to fall very quickly, mainly due to the effect of energy prices”, anticipates Filipe Garcia, economist and president of IMF – Information on Financial Markets.
The economist believes that the increase in Portugal should not be as sharp as that of the average of the countries of the single currency and that the country “should not pass [the maximum barrier] of 4%, if we get there”, although he expects in January a "strong number".
For Paulo Rosa, senior economist at Banco Carregosa, the worst may be over, adding: “We may be at the highest point of inflation in Portugal this year, as well as in Europe and the USA”.
In a general picture, the projections of the main national and international institutions place the average annual rate of change of the Portuguese Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) for 2022 in a range that varies between 1.8% (Bank of Portugal estimate) and 0 .9% (Ministry of Finance estimate).
The European Commission and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) anticipate a rate of change of 1.7%, the International Monetary Fund of 1.3% and the Public Finance Council of 1.6%.
However, the Minister of Finance, João Leão, defended, on January 18, that Portugal should remain “watchful and vigilant” to inflation, in the face of rate hikes that put pressure on prices, expecting “a strong reduction” in the second half of the year.