Mohamed El-Erian says the supply bottlenecks causing inflation aren’t going away anytime soon

Mohamed El-Erian
  • Mohamed El-Erian said supply bottlenecks will continue in the near term in a CNBC interview on Monday.
  • The chief economic advisor at Allianz criticized the Fed for its lack of “humility” and “open-mindedness.”
  • “These bottlenecks that have to do with raw materials, other inputs, and labor are not going away anytime soon,” El-Erian said.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Mohamed El-Erian, the chief economic advisor for Allianz and president of Queen’s College, Cambridge, sat down with CNBC on Monday to talk markets and the topic of inflation quickly came up.

El-Erian said that he believes supply bottlenecks causing inflation will persist.

“I’m of the view that these supply disruptions, these bottlenecks that have to do with raw materials, other inputs, and labor are not going away anytime soon,” El-Erian said.

The chief economic advisor for Allianz added that based on conversations he is having with CEOs, there is considerable input pressure from rising commodity prices on corporations that are going to be passed onto the consumer in the form of higher prices.

“The thing I’m hearing most commonly from companies’ CEOs is: we’re having problems securing inputs, and we’re looking to increase prices and wages,” El-Erian said.

In El-Erian’s view, over the short-term, the Fed won’t change its position that inflation is transitory because they have stated they need “unambiguous evidence” of inflation before tapering asset purchases or increasing interest rates.

El-Erian argued the Fed’s conviction that inflation is transitory comes despite evidence from every corner of the market.

He also noted that the University of Michigan’s index of consumer sentiment released last Friday showed a sharp increase in consumers’ expected inflation rate for the next year in May(4.6% compared with 3.4% in April).

The Consumer Price Index posted its largest most month-over-month jump since 2009 in April as well, while “core” inflation jumped the most since 1982.

Further, El-Erian pointed out that the Bank of Canada and the Bank of England have already started to discuss addressing inflation via tapering quantitative easing policies, and said he worries the fed might be “late” to action.

When asked what would happen if the Fed is “late,” El Erian said, “the market may start getting nervous, and then the Fed will have to slam on the breaks. The last thing we need is the Fed slamming on the breaks because experience shows when that happens, we end up with a recession.”

El-Erian went on to criticize the Fed for its lack of humility and open-mindedness in crafting policy.

“Why is it that you can dismiss all this evidence both from the top-down and bottom-up and hold onto a conviction? You should be more open-minded have a bit more humility about the fact that we don’t understand well supply bottlenecks,” El-Erian said.

“Economists typically lag when it comes to supply bottlenecks,” he added.

Read more: Goldman Sachs says these 23 stocks have strong pricing power and rock-solid margins that could protect against soaring inflation

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