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ECONOMY

Merkel sees financial markets stabilising

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday said she believed the world’s financial markets were beginning to stabilise months after sparking a global economic downturn.

Merkel sees financial markets stabilising
Photo: DPA

“We have to apply ourselves now, and it won’t be easy, but we’ll make it through,” she told the latest edition of glossy magazine SuperIllu. “The financial markets appear to be stabilising already.”

She said she was cautiously optimistic about how the German economy would develop this year, but that would take time for the country’s financial sector to recover completely from the crisis.

Merkel also said the world’s leading economies needed to redouble their effort to create “stricter rules for the transparency of financial products” such as the asset-backed securities widely blamed for the subprime lending crisis. The conservative chancellor also said Germany’s social market economy could serve as an example to other nations.

“I’m convinced if the entire world respected the basic concepts of social-market economics then it wouldn’t have come to such excesses on the markets,” she said.

Merkel also said Berlin considered new US President Barack Obama open to closer cooperation on important issues such as setting up global rules for the international financial markets, global warming and working with Russia. “The results will be decisive,” she told the magazine.

ECONOMY

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.

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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.

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