Picture your Future. Save for it by earning 1.5% on a 1-year Term Deposit Account! Learn more.

BlackRock Commentary: Inflation – beyond near-term volatility

Jean Boivin, Head of the BlackRock Investment Institute together with Elga Bartsch, Head of Macro Research, Wei Li, Global Chief Investment Strategist, and Vivek Paul, Senior Portfolio Strategist, all part of the BlackRock Investment Institute, share their insights on global economy, markets and geopolitics. Their views are theirs alone and are not intended to be construed as investment advice.

Inflation looks set to overshoot the Fed’s target as we have expected. Yet we see uncertainties around the near-term persistence of the overshoot as the restart leads to unusual supply and demand dynamics. We have closed our tactical overweight in inflation-linked bonds as inflation expectations have risen sharply, but favor them strategically as we see medium-term inflation still underpriced.

Article Image 1 Inflation beyond near-term volatility 03-05

Forward looking estimates may not come to pass. Sources: BlackRock Investment Institute, U.S. National Federation of Independent Business, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Reuters News, with data from Haver Analytics, April 2021. Notes: The orange line shows the net balance of firms in the NFIB survey of small and medium-sized businesses reporting that they are currently raising their prices. A value of 0 indicates that the number of firms raising and reducing their prices is the same. The solid yellow line shows the annual change in the U.S. core CPI inflation rate. The dotted line indicates estimates for core CPI. Expected values for 2021-22 are based on the Reuters consensus as of March 2021. The core CPI estimates from 2022 onwards are based on our expectations of the likely path of GDP growth, spare capacity in the economy and the outlook for monetary policy.


The Covid shock is more akin to a natural disaster followed by a rapid “restart” – rather than a traditional business cycle recession followed by a “recovery”, in our view. We see this distinct nature of the shock as having profound implications for inflation: The pandemic didn’t cause a shortfall in demand as in typical recessions; it has instead led to shortfalls in both supply and demand. As the economy restarts, both supply bottlenecks and pent-up demand are coming into sharp focus. Small U.S. businesses slashed prices at the onset of the pandemic, coinciding with a dip in the core consumer price index (CPI), or prices excluding those of volatile energy and food. See the chart above. The trend has since turned, with many small businesses raising prices. Consensus forecasts point to a peak of inflation in May, yet we believe inflation could be volatile in the near term and see risks to the upside given the unusual interplay between supply bottlenecks and pent-up demand as the restart plays out.

Right now we are witnessing supply constraints being pitted against surging demand as the economy reopens. Global supply chains have come under pressure during the pandemic, as companies are faced with challenges including component shortages, rising raw material prices and longer delivery times. Meanwhile we expect the pent-up demand to unleash as virus restrictions ease and activity reopens. This unusual dynamic could lead to volatile inflation in the near term, in our view. In addition, it could allow many companies more power to pass on higher input prices to consumers with cash to spare, preventing compression in profit margins.

We have closed our tactical overweight in Treasury Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS) after sharp increases in both inflation expectations and nominal bond yields. The 10-year breakeven inflation rate – a market-based measure of inflation expectations – has risen from 0.5% last March to about 2.4%. It has also become less responsive to recent inflation data surprises. We don’t see it moving significantly above 2.5% in coming months. Net inflows to TIPS exchanged-traded products (ETPs), on a rolling six-month basis, have hovered near record levels hit last December, according to Bloomberg.

We see U.S.CPI inflation averaging just under 3% between 2025-2030, and we believe this is still underpriced by markets. First, we expect higher production costs as the pandemic accelerates the rewiring of global supply chains. Second, major central banks are evolving their policy frameworks and explicitly intend to let inflation overshoot their targets. Third, the higher debt levels will make it harder for central banks to lean against inflation – and make the decision to start tightening more politicized, in our view. When looking at the concrete impact of higher debt servicing costs due to tightening monetary policy, the less tangible – but no less real – risk of loosening the grip on inflation expectations will likely pale in comparison.

The bottom line: We will likely see peak growth data and volatile inflation data in coming months – different from typical business cycle recoveries where better growth data typically have led to higher inflation. This may trigger some knee-jerk reactions and market volatility. We believe markets are still underestimating the potential for above-target inflation over the medium term. As a result we prefer inflation-linked bonds and are underweight nominal government bonds over the strategic horizon.

Market Updates

Article Image 2 Inflation beyond near-term volatility 03-05

Past performance is not a reliable indicator of current or future results. Indexes are unmanaged and do not account for fees. It is not possible to invest directly in an index. Sources: BlackRock Investment Institute, with data from Refinitiv Datastream as of April 29, 2021. Notes: The two ends of the bars show the lowest and highest returns at any point this year to date, and the dots represent current year-to-date returns. Emerging market (EM), high yield and global corporate investment grade (IG) returns are denominated in U.S. dollars, and the rest in local currencies. Indexes or prices used are, in descending order: spot Brent crude, MSCI USA Index, MSCI Europe Index, MSCI Emerging Markets Index, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global High Yield Index, ICE U.S. Dollar Index (DXY), Refinitiv Datastream Italy 10-year benchmark government bond index, Bank of America Merrill Lynch Global Broad Corporate Index, J.P. Morgan EMBI index, Refinitiv Datastream Germany 10-year benchmark government bond index, Refinitiv Datastream U.S. 10-year benchmark government bond index and spot gold.

Market backdrop

A decline in U.S. Treasury yields and strong corporate earnings are providing some support to equities. The S&P 500 Index hit a record high last week and posted gains for the third straight month. Among the just over 40% of S&P 500 companies that have reported first-quarter earnings, 85% have beaten estimates, Refinitiv data showed. Mega-cap tech companies reported strong results. President Joe Biden outlined his $4 trillion spending plan to enhance infrastructure and social services, and the Fed reinforced its emphasis on policy patience.

Week Ahead

  • May 3 – U.S., euro zone manufacturing purchasing managers’ index (PMI)
  • May 5 – U.S. ISM non-manufacturing PMI; euro zone composite PMI
  • May 6 – Bank of England policy meeting
  • May 7 – Caixin China services PMI; U.S. nonfarm payrolls

U.S. nonfarm payrolls data will be in focus. Economists expect an increase of 978,000 jobs in April, after a rise of 916,000 jobs in the previous month, according to Reuters. Investors will look for clues on the rebound of sectors that have been most affected by the pandemic as well as a further increase in construction jobs. They will also try to gauge the pace of the economic restart from PMI data from key economies.

BlackRock’s Key risks & Disclaimers:

This material is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. The opinions expressed are as of May 3rd, 2021 and may change. The information and opinions are derived from proprietary and non-proprietary sources deemed by BlackRock to be reliable, are not necessarily all-inclusive and are not guaranteed as to accuracy. As such, no warranty of accuracy or reliability is given and no responsibility arising in any other way for errors and omissions (including responsibility to any person by reason of negligence) is accepted by BlackRock, its officers, employees or agents. This material may contain ’forward looking’ information that is not purely historical in nature. Such information may include, among other things, projections and forecasts. There is no guarantee that any forecasts made will come to pass. Reliance upon information in this material is at the sole discretion of the reader.

The information provided here is neither tax nor legal advice. Investors should speak to their tax professional for specific information regarding their tax situation. Investment involves risk including possible loss of principal. International investing involves risks, including risks related to foreign currency, limited liquidity, less government regulation, and the possibility of substantial volatility due to adverse political, economic or other developments. These risks are often heightened for investments in emerging/developing markets or smaller capital markets. 

Issued by BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited, authorized and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered office: 12 Throgmorton Avenue, London, EC2N 2DL.

MeDirect Disclaimers:

This information has been accurately reproduced, as received from  BlackRock Investment Management (UK) Limited. No information has been omitted which would render the reproduced information inaccurate or misleading. This information is being distributed by MeDirect Bank (Malta) plc to its customers. The information contained in this document is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal or other professional advice nor does it commit MeDirect Bank (Malta) plc to any obligation whatsoever. The information available in this document is not intended to be a suggestion, recommendation or solicitation to buy, hold or sell, any securities and is not guaranteed as to accuracy or completeness.

The financial instruments discussed in the document may not be suitable for all investors and investors must make their own informed decisions and seek their own advice regarding the appropriateness of investing in financial instruments or implementing strategies discussed herein.

If you invest in this product you may lose some or all of the money you invest. The value of your investment may go down as well as up. A commission or sales fee may be charged at the time of the initial purchase for an investment. Any income you get from this investment may go down as well as up. This product may be affected by changes in currency exchange rate movements thereby affecting your investment return therefrom. The performance figures quoted refer to the past and past performance is not a guarantee of future performance or a reliable guide to future performance. Any decision to invest in a mutual fund should always be based upon the details contained in the Prospectus and Key Investor Information Document (KIID), which may be obtained from MeDirect Bank (Malta) plc.

Join MeDirect today to access the tools you need to put your money to work on your own terms.

Latest news articles

Staying dynamic in our strategic views
All News

BlackRock Commentary: Staying dynamic in our strategic views

BlackRock anticipates that the new macroeconomic environment, characterized by increased volatility, will lead to more frequent valuation changes across asset classes. While short-term outcomes may not always be influenced by valuations, they remain significant in the long run.

Experience better Banking

The sooner you start managing your money, your way, using the best-in-class tools, the sooner you’ll see results. 

Sign up and open your account for free, within minutes.



We strive to ensure a streamlined account opening process, via a structured and clear set of requirements and personalised assistance during the initial communication stages. If you are interested in opening a corporate account with MeDirect, please complete an Account Opening Information Questionnaire and send it to corporate@medirect.com.mt.

For a comprehensive list of documentation required to open a corporate account please contact us by email at corporate@medirect.com.mt or by phone on (+356) 2557 4444.