Empirisch ist „Greedflation“ nicht so klar

Die „Gierflation“ ist in aller Munde und wohl die beste Ausrede der Zuständigen, im Versuch die Unschuld zu beteuern. Doch was ist dran? Ich persönlich denke, wenn überhaupt, ist es meist ein statistischer Effekt, weil es nach dem FIFO-Prinzip funktioniert: First In – First Out. Wenn also Firmen die Preise erhöhen können und noch günstiger beschaffte Vorleistungen haben, müssen die Gewinnmargen temporär steigen. Möglich ist das Ganze ohnehin nur, wenn die Kunden genug Kaufkraft (= Geld) haben. Sonst gibt es keine Inflation, weil die Nachfrage an anderer Stelle sinkt.

John Authers beleuchtete das Thema auch in seinem sehr empfehlenswerten Bloomberg-Newsletter. Auszüge:

  • So if greedflation has a meaning, it’s the notion that companies’ greed to hike margins has added to the rise in consumer prices. And there’s circumstantial evidence for it.“ – bto: Das zeigt er an der Entwicklung der Margen.
  • Capitalism is supposed to be driven by greed, after all (…). Companies try to charge a price that maximizes their profits, which entails finding a level that customers are willing and able to pay. Those profits allow them to reward shareholders with money they might spend or invest on other things, and to pay their workers. It’s not obviously ignoble to try to defend how much money they make.“ – bto: Genau so ist es.  
  • „Then again, there’s plainly something called price gouging [Preistreiberei], and at some point, the healthy working of a capitalist economy wanders into exploitation.“ – bto: … wie zum Beispiel nach Naturkatastrophen, wenn Wasser etc. für deutlich mehr Geld verkauft wird.
  • Outside of freakish events like natural disasters, it’s much harder to cross the line for long. Paul Donovan, chief economist at UBS puts it: If you’re a small business owner, if you’re running a family-run restaurant, your profit margin is also your income. And at a time of generally high inflation, everyone is trying to maintain their living standards. And so I think it’s unfair to say this small business owner is engaged in profit-led inflation and that is greedflation. It is not being greedy, it’s just simply trying to stay still. So that’s why I opposed the phrase and it’s become too politically charged.“ – bto: Das kann man so sehen.
  • When companies get into the grip of ‚profit-led inflation‘ and raise prices because they calculate that customers will pay the extra, then yes, the profit motive can become a driver of inflation. But (…) such episodes are rare and don’t last long because ‚you get normally a combination of customers saying they don’t think that’s fair‘. And politicians saying, ‚My constituents are unhappy, let’s have an investigation.‘“ – bto: Vor allem kann man dann ausweichen.
  • Once customers believe they’re being treated unfairly, (…) sellers’ decisions start to shift; they don’t want to damage their brand. (…) The gap between capitalism-as-usual and price gouging is bound to remain subjective. Higher margins, however, do not necessarily equate to unjustifiable greed.“ – bto: Und es läuft auch voraus.  
  • If we look at rolling 12-month projected earnings and sales per share for the S&P 500, as reported to Bloomberg, we find that projected sales have continued rising since the market top at the beginning of 2022. This is in nominal terms, so inflation has helped — sell the same amount of stuff for a slightly higher price, and your revenue will go up. However, projected earnings took a dive during the second half of last year, so Wall Street was braced for companies to have to take lower profit markups. That is the opposite of greedflation.“ – bto: Es deckt sich mit dem Eindruck, dass es sich um eine systematische „Greedflation“ handelt.
  • But is there a specific link between goods and services for which input prices are anyway rising, and companies taking advantage by hiking margins on top? This gets very questionable, and academics are sifting the evidence. If companies are exploiting the confusion of increasing costs to jack up their margins, then there might be a relationship between producer prices and markups — the higher the rise in producer prices, the greater the margins. And if that’s what greedflation means, it isn’t happening at all. In a paper called Rising Prices, Rising Markups?, a group of four academics — Christopher Conlon, Nathan H. Miller, Tsolmon Otgon and Yi Yao — crunched through the official PPI rises for different products, and the change in markups for the companies that make them.“
  • „The results are best illustrated with these spectacular scatter plots. From 1980 to 2018, there was a just-discernible positive relationship — higher producer price inflation tended to mean higher markups. But the link was very, very weak. From 2018 until the third quarter of last year, even that has disappeared. The R-squared or level of correlation between the two is exactly zero.“ – bto: Das sagt also, dass es keine überproportionale Preissteigerung und damit keine „Greedflation“ gab.

Quelle: Bloomberg
  • “In aggregate, then, it’s hard to say that companies are contributing in any sinister or malign way to the inflation that long-suffering consumers were bound to have to suffer.”- bto: also hier die Aussage, nein, es stimmt nicht.