After dropping to the lowest level this year in June, inflation accelerated again slightly - to 1.7%. However, it still remains at a healthy level for the economy and remains below the inflation target. That is why interest rates will remain unchanged as long as there will be no rapid wage growth, Dom Inwestycyjny Dom Inwestycyjny Xelion's chief analyst Piotr Kuczyński believes. On the other hand, for the poorest, the price increase may be severe, as food is more expensive.
- 1.7% is not a big inflation, it is inflation expected and desired both by entrepreneurs and the budget - says Piotr Kuczyński, head analyst of Dom Inwestycyjny Xelion, Newseria Biznes news agency. - The higher the inflation, the higher the budget revenues and smaller the budget deficit. So the budget welcomes such inflation with pleasure. People welcome it with less pleasure, especially since a lot of increases are related to food prices. Butter, cheese and fruit have become dramatically more expensive because of winter and frost.
Average consumer prices in Poland have been rising annually since December 2016. They have returned to increases after almost 2.5 years of declines. Initially, inflation accelerated by leaps and reached 2.2% in February 2017, but then it slowed down to 1.5% in June. This is the lower limit of the permissible margin around the inflation target, i.e. the level to which the Monetary Policy Council should pursue its policy. It remains at the level of 2.5%. According to a quick estimate of the Central Statistical Office, in July there was a slight acceleration to 1.7%.
However, not all consumer goods and commodities were priced equally quickly at that time. The average for the whole first half of the year is 1.9 percent. Fuels have risen the most, and with them transport costs, which is not surprising given the dramatically low oil prices in the first half of last year.
However, there is food behind them - on average during the first 6 months of the year one had to pay for it by 3.7% more than a year before.
- Those Poles who have lower incomes will suffer more, because if they have lower incomes, the proportion of expenditure on food is higher than in those who have higher incomes," says Piotr Kuczyński.
However, wages were rising faster than prices: in companies employing more than 9 people, they were 5 percent higher than a year ago. This rate, according to Kuczyński, may increase.
- For the time being, there is no strong pressure on wages. If it will appear and be maintained, and it may be so, because the unemployment rate is extremely low in Poland and the needs of the economy will be high, the inflation may move up. It is rather next year, this year it will not be above 2%. - Kuczyński forecasts.
Employment in these companies in June exceeded 6 million people for the first time (the barrier of 5 million was overcome in January 2007, on the threshold of the second quarter in Poland's recent history in terms of economic growth rate). Unemployment, both in June and July, is at the lowest level of 7.1% in 26 years. Employers complain about the lack of hands to work, and the situation is currently being saved by Ukrainians. However, the risk of rising wage pressure is considerable, especially since also the newcomers from abroad raise their expectations in this respect.
- The Monetary Policy Council will not do anything this year, the rates will be at the level of 1.5%. The change will take place perhaps next year, or maybe only in 2019. If the aforementioned pressure on wages appears, then the Council will have to do something, DI Xelion chief analyst comments.
The potential increase in interest rates should strengthen the Polish zloty, which is already experiencing a strengthening compared to what happened last year. Since January, it has risen to the dollar by more than 15 percent. It has gained almost 10 percent to the pound, which was not very much to the delight of families receiving aid in this currency from relatives working in the UK. The reasons for this joy were francophone: the zloty has rebuilt by more than 10 percent to the Swiss currency. The profit against the euro is more modest - about 3 percent. According to Piotr Kuczyński, even without a rate increase, the Polish currency should continue to grow.
- From the point of view of its foundations, the zloty should be stronger, so I assume that it will strengthen, provided there is no external crisis. When such a crisis occurs, all developing countries' currencies lose, and the zloty is in this basket. For the time being, it seems that it should gain,' predicts Piotr Kuczyński.