Inflation and GDP Growth in the G7 Revisited

In August 2022, I wrote a post showing that among G7 nations, the US had the highest inflation during the pandemic, but also the highest rate of real economic growth. But since the economic situation is evolving rapidly, I wanted to update that data from mid-2022 (I also use core inflation, but I’ll use total inflation in this post).

Here’s how inflation has looked during the pandemic:

While the US had the most cumulative inflation for much of the pandemic, the cooling of inflation in the US and the acceleration in Europe has changed things a bit. By late 2022, the UK and Italy had caught up to the US, and Germany is closing in too. These countries have cumulative inflation of between 15 and 17 percent since January 2020.

Japan looks to be the winner here. But wait, we don’t only care about low and stable inflation. We also want economic growth. Here’s the data through the 4th quarter of 2022 (we’ll start to get 2023q1 data from countries next week):

By this measure, the US comes out as the clear winner, with real GDP being about 5 percent higher than the end of 2019. That might not sound impressive for 3 years of growth, until you realize that 5 of the 7 nations had growth below 2 percent, with Germany and the UK actually still smaller than the end of 2019! And this doesn’t take account of the cumulative losses. Notice that the US had the second smallest dip in 2020q2 as well.

It’s hard to know exactly what the right non-COVID counterfactual would be, since these countries all had different rates of growth before the pandemic. But adding up the GDP scaled to 100 before the pandemic, the US is the only G7 country where these 12 quarters of data add up to more than 1,200. The other countries haven’t even had enough growth since the 2020 recession to make up for the losses during the recession, to say nothing of what their potential growth would have been. Japan comes the closest to making up the losses, while the UK stands out as the worst.

Here’s the figures for all the G7 countries, with 100% meaning they have had enough growth to offset the losses from the 2020 recession:

US: 100.8%

Japan: 99.3%

Canada: 98.6%

Germany: 98.0%

France: 97.1%

Italy: 96.9%

UK: 94.5%

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