For a long time, Europe’s currency watchdogs viewed the rise in inflation rates as temporary. But inflation is rising and rising. The banking association BdB calls for more determined intervention from the ECB.

According to the private banking association BdB, people in Germany will have to adjust to higher inflation rates in the long term.

“Due to statistical base effects in energy and commodity prices, the inflation rate should fall again somewhat over the course of the year. With rates of over 3 percent, consumer prices should also be well above the 2 percent target set by the European Central Bank on average for the coming year,” writes the Association of German Banks (BdB) in a current analysis published on Thursday.

According to provisional figures from the Federal Statistical Office, the annual rate of inflation jumped to 7.9 percent in May. There have never been inflation rates at this level in reunified Germany, the last time in the old federal states was in the winter of 1973/1974. At that time, mineral oil prices had risen sharply as a result of the first oil crisis. Higher inflation rates reduce the purchasing power of consumers because they can then afford less for one euro.

Significantly higher trend rate

According to BdB estimates, “increasingly structural changes will shape price developments in the coming years”: labor shortages, the restructuring of the economy towards sustainability and the realignment of global production and supply chains. “There is therefore much to suggest that inflation rates in Germany and the euro zone will develop at a significantly higher trend rate in the coming years than in the past two decades.”

The European Central Bank (ECB), which is aiming for medium-term stable prices with an inflation rate of two percent for the entire euro zone, has decided to act after much hesitation. The central bank has announced that it will end the currently negative deposit interest rate of minus 0.5 percent with two rate hikes in July and September of this year. Rising inflation can be combated with higher interest rates.

The BdB demands more speed from the ECB in the turnaround in interest rates. “High inflation is a burden on consumers and unsettling the economy. Inflation expectations are also rising significantly. A negative key interest rate has long since ceased to fit this situation, »said BdB General Manager Christian Ossig of the German Press Agency. “The ECB should end the negative interest rate policy with a large rate hike of 50 basis points before the summer break in July. That would be an important signal to consumers and collective bargaining parties.”

However, ECB chief economist Philip R. Lane has already dampened hopes of a faster end to negative interest rates in the euro area. “What we are currently seeing is that it is appropriate to phase out negative interest rates by the end of the third quarter and that the process should be gradual,” Lane told Spanish newspaper Cinco Días. Normalization usually occurs in steps of 25 basis points, so that rate hikes of 0.25 percent at the ECB Council meetings in July (July 21) and September (September 8) represented a benchmark, Lane explained in the interview.