We're currently in a Goldilocks environment - not too hot, not too cold. How long can this last? Structural forces are depressing inflation but cyclical pressures are intensifying. Even if the microwave is less powerful than before, if you keep zapping the porridge for long enough, surely it will eventually overheat?
With the Fed and ECB unwinding QE, what happens when we come off the meds? There are signs that the patient (the economy) has healed, suggesting limited withdrawal effects. While addiction and placebo effects could still increase risk premia, low inflation reduces the risk of going ‘cold turkey’.
The BoE is in a difficult spot. Lower trend growth and a weaker pound mean that if it doesn't hike rates, inflation could remain above target. But if it raises rates too fast, the economy could be hurt should downside risks materialise.
US wage inflation remains subdued. Many believe this is due to workers' fears about automation and offshoring. Yet US consumers believe jobs are 'easy to get' and companies struggle to find labour. This contrasts with Germany in 2004 when the EU expanded eastwards. So second-round effects from low oil prices and ageing demographics appear more plausible explanations.