Bundesbank warns inflation could jump

The German central bank warned on Saturday that inflation could be higher than it had predicted due to recent public-sector deals for wage hikes.

Bundesbank warns inflation could jump
German inflation was over 3 percent in March. Photo: dpa

Earlier this week German services union Verdi — the biggest in the country — and public-sector employers struck a deal on wage rises of around eight percent over two years for 1.3 million employees.

“The wage agreements are sharply higher than we expected,” Bundesbank president Axel Weber told journalists while in the Slovenian capital for a meeting of EU finance chiefs nearby.

“We are going to have a close look at the (inflation) forecasts to see if public-sector wage deals don’t make a revision necessary,” he said, adding that those agreements often set the tone for other pay negotiations.

“We are concerned about that,” he said, insisting that the German public sector was in a unique situation because it had gone without pay increases for several years.

Eurozone finance ministers and central bankers, meeting for two days in Brdo pri Kranju, Slovenia, warned on Friday that demands for big wage hikes could fuel a dangerous inflation spiral.

In the face of their warnings, at least 30,000 European trade union members were due to march in Ljubljana on Saturday as part of a drive for higher wages.

Inflation in the 15 eurozone countries jumped in March to 3.5 percent — the highest level since the bloc was formed in 1999, according to official EU data earlier this week.

In the face of such inflation, eurozone officials say that wage demands should not exceed productivity growth.


German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

Russia's war in Ukraine is slowing down the economy and accelerating inflation in Germany, the Ifo Institute has claimed.

German consumer prices set to rise steeply amid war in Ukraine

According to the Munich-based economics institute, inflation is expected to rise from 5.1 to 6.1 percent in March. This would be the steepest rise in consumer prices since 1982.

Over the past few months, consumers in Germany have already had to battle with huge hikes in energy costs, fuel prices and increases in the price of other everyday commodities.


With Russia and Ukraine representing major suppliers of wheat and grain, further price rises in the food market are also expected, putting an additional strain on tight incomes. 

At the same time, the ongoing conflict is set to put a dampener on the country’s annual growth forecasts. 

“We only expect growth of between 2.2 and 3.1 percent this year,” Ifo’s head of economic research Timo Wollmershäuser said on Wednesday. 

Due to the increase in the cost of living, consumers in Germany could lose around €6 billion in purchasing power by the end of March alone.

With public life in Germany returning to normal and manufacturers’ order books filling up, a significant rebound in the economy was expected this year. 

But the war “is dampening the economy through significantly higher commodity prices, sanctions, increasing supply bottlenecks for raw materials and intermediate products as well as increased economic uncertainty”, Wollmershäuser said.

Because of the current uncertainly, the Ifo Institute calculated two separate forecasts for the upcoming year.

In the optimistic scenario, the price of oil falls gradually from the current €101 per barrel to €82 by the end of the year, and the price of natural gas falls in parallel.

In the pessimistic scenario, the oil price rises to €140 per barrel by May and only then falls to €122 by the end of the year.

Energy costs have a particularly strong impact on private consumer spending.

They could rise between 3.7 and 5 percent, depending on the developments in Ukraine, sanctions on Russia and the German government’s ability to source its energy. 

On Wednesday, German media reported that the government was in the process of thrashing out an additional set of measures designed to support consumers with their rising energy costs.

The hotly debated measures are expected to be finalised on Wednesday evening and could include increased subsidies, a mobility allowance, a fuel rebate and a child bonus for families. 

READ ALSO: KEY POINTS: Germany’s proposals for future energy price relief

In one piece of positive news, the number of unemployed people in Germany should fall to below 2.3 million, according to the Ifo Institute.

However, short-time work, known as Kurzarbeit in German, is likely to increase significantly in the pessimistic scenario.