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ECONOMY

Soros: Germany should bail out the euro

A new approach to saving the euro is needed and Germany should finance it, George Soros, the star investor and hedge fund manager told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

Soros: Germany should bail out the euro
Photo: DPA

The US investor, known for nearly bringing the Bank of England to its knees in a wave of currency speculation in 1992, laid out an elaborate plan for saving the common currency, in an interview with the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

He was also quick to blame the German government and its federal bank, the Bundesbank, for the euro’s current woes.

“German policy and above all the Bundesbank stuck with their rigid dogma and it is making it dangerous for the euro,” he said.

But the bottom line of his thinking is that Germany, as the continent’s strongest economy and big winner from the common currency, needs to finance the way out of the current monetary mess.

“The Germans have to decide if they want the euro or not,” Soros said. “If they do, then they have to make the transfers. If not, they should leave [the currency zone].”

But a German exit from the euro would provoke serious damage to German exports, Soros notes. “The new German currency would appreciate sharply,” he warned.

Soros, a US investor with Hungarian roots, said, “there is no (currency) union without transfers – either political or monetary.”

The Local/mw

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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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