IBM CEO says inflation fears could trigger 'some chaos'

  • "With all of the liquidity, and the fears of inflation raising its head, that can cause some chaos," Krishna told CNBC after he was asked what keeps him up at night.
  • The leader of the technology giant said the disruption may not unfold for some time, however.
  • Fed Chair Jerome Powell has previously said he expects inflation conditions to persist "well into next year" and conceded it is "frustrating" that supply chain issues are showing no signs of improvement.

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna has told CNBC he's "always worried" about inflation and warned of possible disruption ahead.

"With all of the liquidity, and the fears of inflation raising its head, that can cause some chaos," Krishna told CNBC Monday after he was asked what keeps him up at night.

The leader of the technology giant said the disruption may not unfold for some time, however.

"I'm always worried about it [inflation], but I'm not sure it will have an impact on the business in 2022," Krishna told CNBC's Dan Murphy at the ADIPEC energy industry forum in Abu Dhabi, the United Arab Emirates.

Fed Chair Jerome Powell has previously said he expects inflation conditions to persist "well into next year" and conceded it is "frustrating" that supply chain issues are showing no signs of improvement. The Fed has insisted, however, that rising prices are largely tied to the coronavirus pandemic and that the supply chain problems will pass.

The U.S. consumer price index, which covers products ranging from gasoline and health care to groceries and rents, rose 0.9% on a monthly basis in October, the Labor Department reported on Nov. 10, significantly higher than expectations. The reading climbed to 6.2% year over year, hitting its highest point since December 1990.

Covid concerns

Krishna also said there could be an economic slowdown if a new Covid variant takes hold.

"We still have a pandemic upon us," he said. "If some new variant comes around, even worse than delta, that would bother me because I think it'll cause a temporary, not a permanent, slowdown."

Covid protocols and the vaccines are minimizing the impact of the virus, Krishna added.

— Additional reporting by CNBC's Sam Meredith.

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