The European Central bank in online news & economy news

ECB Slows Rate Hike Pace But Warns of ‘Long Game’ to Tame Inflation

economy news online news

By Michelle Fitzpatrick

The European Central Bank opted for a smaller interest rate increase of half a percentage point on Thursday but warned of more hikes to come in the “long game” to tame red-hot inflation. online news

The ECB has been lifting borrowing rates at an unprecedented pace in recent months to bring down record-high consumer prices after Russia’s war in Ukraine sent energy and food costs surging.

Following two consecutive “jumbo” hikes of 75 basis points, the ECB’s governing council agreed to downshift to an increase of 50 basis points at its final meeting of 2022.

The move mirrors the half-point steps taken by the US Federal Reserve on Wednesday, and the Bank of England earlier on Thursday.

But ECB president Christine Lagarde warned that inflation in the 19-nation eurozone was still “far too high” and more action needed to be taken.

“We have more ground to cover, we have longer to go and we are in for a long game,” Lagarde told reporters.

Interest rates will still have to “rise significantly at a steady pace,” she said, adding that the eurozone should expect further rises “at 50 basis-point pace for a period of time”.

Eurozone inflation eased in November for the first time in 17 months, partly thanks to efforts by European governments to shield consumers from energy price shocks.

At 10 percent however, inflation remains five times higher than the ECB’s target.

ING bank economist Carsten Brzeski said the ECB’s comments were “surprisingly hawkish”.

The ECB’s closely-watched bank deposit rate — one of its three main rates — will now finish the year at 2.0 percent, the highest level since 2008.

Short lived and shallow

“The ECB is now more worried about tightening too little and would accept some short-term economic pain to bring inflation back to target,” said Berenberg Bank economist Salomon Fiedler.

Like other central banks, the ECB is walking a fine line as it seeks to raise borrowing costs enough to cool inflation without dampening demand so much it triggers a deep economic downturn.

The ECB’s latest quarterly projections on Thursday showed that the eurozone economy was expected to contract in the final quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023.

Online News World News International News

But the ECB said the winter recession would likely be “relatively short-lived and shallow”, echoing analysts’ expectations as households and businesses feel the impact of government interventions and gas storage facilities are fuller than usual at this time of year.

The ECB however slashed its outlook for economic growth in 2023, from 0.9 percent previously to 0.5 percent. Stronger growth of 1.9 percent should then be achieved for 2024, it said.

“The war against Ukraine and its people remains a significant downside risk to the economy,” Lagarde cautioned.

The Frankfurt institution also unveiled its first-ever inflation projection for 2025, set to come in at 2.3 percent.

While still above the ECB’s two-percent target, it’s a far cry from the 6.3 percent inflation projected in 2023, followed by 3.4 percent in 2024.

Both are higher figures than previously forecast.

Lagarde acknowledged the “substantial upward revision” on inflation, the latest in a long line as the ECB faces criticism for having consistently underestimated price pressures in recent months.

Lagarde added that the bank was keeping a close eye on wage growth, as workers demand salary increases to keep up with higher prices for goods and services.

The ECB sees wages growing “at rates well above historical averages, and pushing up inflation”, Lagarde said.

Bloated portfolio

The ECB also opened up another front in its battle against high inflation, outlining for the first time when and how it plans to start slimming down its five-trillion-euro bond portfolio after years of hoovering up corporate and government debt.

The bank said it would stop reinvesting the proceeds from some maturing bonds from March, reducing its balance sheet by 15 billion euros per month on average though June.

Further details of the “quantitative tightening” plan will be announced in February.


© Agence France-Presse. All rights are reserved.

economy news online news

Notes from APS Radio News

From the early part of March 2020 to April 15, 2022, the US Federal Reserve had been increasing its holdings by nearly $5 trillion dollars.

It did this each month of that period by buying billions of dollars of corporation and government bonds, in effect, infusing massive amounts of money into the economy.

And, as the FRED graph shows, it did so at rapid rate or at a high rate of velocity.

Economists say that when massive amoutns of fiat money are infused into the economy at high rates of velocity, the likelihood of noticeably higher rates of inflation is made greater.

A number of other central banks followed a similar policy.

For example, between late February 2020, even days before the media started fixating on the virus thingy, and March of this year, the European Central Bank embarked on its own version of monetary expansion.

During that period, the ECB increased its holdings by over 5 trillion euros.

The Bank of Japan also increased its holdings.

Between February of 2020 and earlier this year, it had increased its holding by a few hundred trillion Yen.

For a number of years, including the Bank of Japan, major central banks have kept their interest rates low.

For its part, the Bank of Japan kept its interest rates at negative rates, meaning that depositors had to pay banks to hold their money.

During and before the pandemic, major corporations had increased the number of mergers and acquisitions, as those entities were able to make their purchases using inexpensive money and higher stock valuations.

The other part of the equation was that of supply.

As a result of lockdowns, many small and medium-sized businesses were closed.

Shipping ports had lost workers, and truck drivers going to those ports had to wait in long lines, as a result.

In effect, well before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, shortages of various goods and services developed.

The invasion and sanctions imposed have aggravated shortages of commodities like petroleum and grain.

And there have been instances of price gouging.

economy news online news

Commentary & News Online
APS Radio News