Experts on Swedish inflation: The worst is over

On Friday, the inflation figure is expected to show that lower energy prices are pushing down inflation. We have asked three leading bank economists about how much of a decline we can expect.

Christina Nyman, chief economist at Handelsbanken, believes that inflation will decline slowly. Archive image.

Christina Nyman, chief economist at Handelsbanken, believes that inflation will decline slowly. Archive image.

Foto: Tomas Oneborg/SvD/TT

Ekonomi2023-04-13 10:30

Handelsbanken: Pressure still high

Christina Nyman, Chief Economist at Handelsbanken, believes that the inflation rate according to CPI, including energy prices and interest rate changes, will be 10.9 percent, a decrease of 1.1 percentage points compared to February. 

The main reason for this is that energy prices are not as high as they were a year ago. However, Nyman emphasizes that inflationary pressure is still high, and the decrease is only a few tenths of a percentage point when adjusted for energy prices. 

– Although inflation is declining, it will do so slowly. Prices for goods will decrease while the price of services will increase slightly, she says. According to her forecast, inflation will be back to 2 percent by the end of 2025.

Swedbank: The peak has passed

Swedbank also predicts that inflation measured by the CPI for March will be 10.9 percent. 

–  This is partly due to the fact that electricity prices were quite low in March, at least compared to what it has been like over the past year. But also because they were very high a year ago, and inflation is measured in comparison to how it looked the same month the previous year, says Carl Nilsson, macroeconomist at Swedbank. 

However, he believes that the peak of inflation has passed now. 

– Something extraordinary has to happen for us to get a new peak, but I think the road ahead will be quite bumpy. Inflation may temporarily rise for a single month ahead, and price development may become more volatile in the future than before, he says.

According to his analysis, the Riksbank will raise the repo rate (the rate at which commercial banks borrow money from the central bank).

– Inflation is high enough that we see the need to raise it by 50 basis points at the end of April, then we see a similar increase in June. But that will probably be the last increase, then we believe that the rate will stay at 4 percent but that there will be interest rate cuts next year.

How long inflation persists depends, among other things, on Swedes' buying behaviors, says Nilsson.

– There seems to be strong booking pressure in the aviation sector, and that is an inflation risk going forward. Prices for foreign flights and package tours are demand-sensitive. If those prices start to rise even more, then there is a risk that inflation will stick at a higher level.

SEB: Inflation has peaked

SEB predicts a 1 percentage point decrease in KPI inflation in March, to 11.0 percent.

– Our forecast is that prices will continue to rise very rapidly on a monthly basis, but that the inflation rate will still decrease. This is largely driven by falling energy prices," says Elisabet Kopelman, macroeconomist at SEB.

She believes that the inflation peak has been reached, although she is uncertain. Price increases are still at levels far above the Riksbank's inflation target.

– Our assessment is that inflation peaked last month, but it will remain at very high levels for a couple of months, she says.

Thereafter, it will gradually ease, moving further downward.

– But it will take time before we return to more normal levels. It's really not until the second half of 2024, says Kopelman.

The slowdown in inflation is helped by the fact that cost increases were so high last year, she says. When high comparison figures disappear, it helps to bring down inflation.

Moreover, it is a positive sign that wage negotiations for industrial partners are now settled, she believes.

– Even if wage increases are high, but relative to high inflation they should still be seen by the Riksbank as relatively moderate. It can be reassuring for them.

SEB predicts that the Riksbank will raise the repo rate by another 50 basis points in April and then by 25 basis points in June.

– Triple hikes were speculated before, but it doesn't seem likely.

Elisabet Kopelman, macroeconomist at SEB. Archive image.
Elisabet Kopelman, macroeconomist at SEB. Archive image.
How inflation is measured

Inflation is measured by the change in prices over a year. The most common measure for inflation and compensation calculations in Sweden is the consumer price index (KPI). 

The index measures the average price development for the entire private domestic consumption, including energy prices and changes in interest rates.

Source: SCB