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ECONOMY

German consumer prices hit 29-year high in November

German consumer prices hit a 29-year high in November, preliminary data showed Monday, as soaring energy costs and supply chain bottlenecks weigh on Europe's top economy.

Woman shopping in German supermarket
A customer walks through the aisles of a supermarket in Haßloch, Rhineland-Palatinate. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Uwe Anspach

The annual inflation rate rose to 5.2 percent, accelerating for the fifth month in a row, with the surge partially driven by a 22-percent jump in energy prices, federal statistics agency Destatis said.

In October, prices had climbed by 4.5 percent year-on-year.

Germany’s central bank said earlier this month that German inflation could spike to just under six percent this year.

The higher cost of living is being experienced across the eurozone at the moment, putting pressure on the European Central Bank to tighten its ultra-loose monetary policy.

The ECB has so far insisted that the inflation surge in the 19-nation zone is transitory, and is wary of acting too soon and potentially stifling the pandemic recovery.

But Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann, who is stepping down at the end of the year, has warned that the price hikes could last longer than expected.

Using the ECB’s preferred yardstick, the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP), German inflation jumped to six percent in November — well above the bank’s two-percent target.

Higher demand after the easing of coronavirus restrictions has pushed up energy prices and led to shortages of key materials and labour around the world.

But Germany also suffers from the comparison effect with 2020, when the country introduced a temporary sales tax cut, as well as the introduction of CO2 pricing at the start of 2021, according to Destatis.

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Carsten Brzeski, economist at ING Diba bank, called November’s inflation figure “a shocker” but said the peak had yet to come.

“The December inflation number could be a new record high since German reunification,” he said. “One-off factors like base effects from higher energy prices and post-lockdown price mark-ups” will “gradually start to abate”, he added.

“However, it could take until the end of 2022 before headline inflation will drop below two percent, if not until 2023.”

Member comments

  1. There is no such thing as transitory inflation. Just inflation. Look at the producer prices index. Look at what’s coming down the pipeline . And then imagine that there won’t be any wage inflation to keep the whole process fuelled. Finally, imagine that inflation in the other Eurozone countries doesn’t let rip. The ECB won’t deal with it because its bankrupt members can’t afford the measures it needs to take . Make sure your pension is index-linked and buy a good wheelbarrow.

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MONEY

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

An economic study has shown huge regional differences in income throughout Germany. So which parts of the country have the most to spend each month, and which are feeling the squeeze?

Where in Germany do people have the highest disposable income?

A study by the Economic and Social Sciences Institute (WSI) of the Hans-Böckler foundation reveals stark regional differences in disposable income in Germany. In some cases, households had as much as double the spending money of those in other parts of the country. 

Here’s where people have the most – and least – disposable income each month.

What is disposable income?

The WSI calculated disposable income as the sum of income from wealth and employment, minus social contributions, income taxes, property taxes and other direct benefits or taxes.

What’s left is the income which private households can either spend on consumer goods or save.

The study, which was based on the most recent available national accounts data for 2019, looked at the disposable income of all of the 401 counties, districts and cities across Germany.

Which regions have the highest and lowest disposable incomes?

The study found that the regions with the highest disposable incomes were in the southern states.

Heilbronn in Baden-Württemberg had the highest disposable income of all 401 German counties and independent cities – with an average per capita disposable income of €42,275. The district of Starnberg in Bayern followed in second place with €38,509.

READ ALSO: REVEALED: How much do employees really earn across Germany’s states?

By comparison, per capita incomes in the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in North Rhine-Westphalia were less than half as high, at €17,015 and €17,741 respectively. These regions had the lowest disposable income in the country. 

The study also found that, more than thirty years since German reunification, the eastern regions continue to lag behind those in the west in terms of wages.

According to the WSI, the Potsdam-Mittelmark district is the only district in the former east where the disposable per capita income of €24,127 exceeds the national average of €23,706.

Do regional price differences balance things out?

The study also showed that regionally different price levels contribute to a certain levelling out of disposable incomes, as regions with high incomes also tend to have higher rents and other living costs.

“People then have more money in their wallets, but they cannot afford more to the same extent,” WSI scientist Toralf Pusch explained.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: When will Germany raise the minimum wage?

Therefore, incomes in the eastern states, adjusted for purchasing power, are generally somewhat higher than the per capita amounts would suggest.

That could explain why, even after price adjustment, the cities of Gelsenkirchen and Duisburg in western Germany continue to be at the very bottom of the list.

Saxon-Anhalt’s Halle an der Saale, on the other hand, which has an average disposable income of only €18,527, benefits from the lower prices in the east.

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