London Daily

Focus on the big picture.

Is the cost of living crunch starting to ease?

Is the cost of living crunch starting to ease?

Eurozone figures are expected to show inflation slowed down in December, bringing hopes of relief to consumers and governments.

Inflation in the eurozone is expected to have fallen sharply at the end of 2022, giving some reprieve to people struggling to pay bills — and to leaders feeling their wrath.

Record-high rates are expected to have returned to single digits in December, with national data from Germany, France and Spain in recent days showing price increases easing more quickly than forecast. In Italy, inflation also came off its peaks.

Hotly anticipated figures for the eurozone as a whole are released on Friday.

Government programs to limit gas prices as well as falling energy costs and a stronger euro contributed to signs that Europe may be able to start putting the worst of the cost-of-living crisis behind it. That will come as a relief to leaders battling pan-European waves of public discontent, protests and strikes.

Before national data trickled in, a Reuters survey of analysts pointed to inflation slowing to 9.7 percent in December from 10 percent in November. More recent estimates, including those of Pantheon Macroeconomics’ economist Claus Vistesen, put the figure around 9 percent.

Slower price rises will be welcome in Berlin, where government popularity has fallen massively ahead of key regional elections. Increasing numbers of voters fear inflation will undermine private wealth, a key survey showed. Germany's ruling coalition is falling in opinion polls and is on track to lose its majority in the parliament.

In France, the government is keeping a close watch on inflation as it prepares to launch a highly sensitive pension reform next week, framing it as part of a broader effort to improve the country’s economy and boost growth. While price rises in France have been lower than in most eurozone countries thanks to massive government support, the cost of living remains people’s No. 1 concern for the new year, according to opinion polls.

The government this week announced new measures to help small businesses, including the country’s cherished bakeries, cope with soaring energy bills.

Still, President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday struck a cautionary tone. “We're probably not at peak inflation yet,” he said. “We will have prices that go up.”

European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde has sounded equally circumspect.

She has said inflation may jump again in January and February, when previous spikes in energy prices are expected to reach the retail level, before coming down more sustainably later this year.

ECB forecasts from December still show inflation averaging 6.3 percent this year.


European Central Bank President Christine has come under fire from governments fearing the central bank’s tightening will push the eurozone economy into a deeper than necessary recession

And while governments may feel pressure on them is easing, the same can hardly be said for the ECB.

Lagarde has come under fire from governments fearing the central bank’s tightening will push the eurozone economy into a deeper-than-necessary recession, adding to the economic hardship of disgruntled voters.

Falling inflation at the same time as slowing economic activity will expose Lagarde to heftier criticism against her tightening course. Italy, under new Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, has been particularly outspoken, with senior ministers attacking December's 0.5 percent interest rate hike and ECB pledges to do more as "baffling," "crazy" and “worrying."

While inflation coming down faster than expected may allow the Governing Council to raise interest rates less aggressively overall, the central bank will not shy away from further tightening as core inflation — which filters out volatile components such as food and energy — may still be on the rise and is running at more than three times the ECB’s 2 percent target.

ING economist Carsten Brzeski said the current inflation environment will likely see the ECB raise rates at the next two meetings by a total of one percentage point. It is only after new inflation forecasts become available in March that there could be momentum to pause the hiking cycle, he added. Markets are currently betting on a policy rate of 3.5 percent by mid-year, up from 2 percent now.

As Lagarde put it in December: “Anybody who thinks that this is a pivot for the ECB is wrong. We’re not pivoting, we’re not wavering.”

Newsletter

Related Articles

London Daily
0:00
0:00
Close
UK Man Jailed for Non-Consensual Condom Removal
Reform UK Surpasses Conservatives in Historic Poll
US, Britain, Canada Accuse Russia of Interference in Moldova’s Election
Taylor Swift Fans Create Seismic Activity in Edinburgh
Sunak Aide Under Investigation for Election Bet
Labour Leader Starmer Focuses on Wealth Creation for Upcoming UK Elections
G7 to Use Frozen Russian Assets for $50 Billion Ukraine Aid
Anti-Israel Irish MEP Clare Daly LOST her seat in the EU Election
Johnson & Johnson Settles Talc Safety Claims for $700 Million
EU Urged to Welcome Skilled Russians to Weaken Putin
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Israel Rescues Four Hostages from Gaza
Emmanuel Macron Calls for Snap Election
Jordan Bardella: Young Far-Right Leader Poised for Future Political Influence in France
World's Oldest Privately Owned Book Auctioned for $3.8 Million
Animal Rights Activists Deface King Charles' Portrait in Protest
Dutch Military Intel Uncovers Extensive Chinese Cyber Espionage
Turkish Student Arrested for Using AI to Cheat in University Exam
Rise in Dengue and Other Mosquito-Borne Diseases in Europe Due to Climate Change
EU Elections Overview: Far-Right Gains and Major Political Shifts
Far-Right National Rally Dominates France's EU Vote
Macron Calls Snap Legislative Elections After Far-Right Victory
Far-Right Gains Significantly in EU Election
UK Job Market Shows Signs of Recovery
Orban’s Fidesz Party Wins Majority in Hungary’s EU Elections as New Challenger Emerges
Meloni's Far-Right Party Wins European Elections in Italy
Key Insights from the European Union Elections
European Union Elections and Rise of Far-Right Parties
England Loses Over 260,000 Social Rent Homes in a Decade
Campaigners Urge Government to Block Shein's FTSE Listing
First NHS AI-Run Physiotherapy Clinic Launches This Year
British TV Presenter Michael Mosley Found Dead on Greek Island
Ukrainian Forces Claims First Strike on Russia's Su-57 Fighter Jet
Macron Dissolves Parliament and Calls Snap Elections
Russia Adds Yulia Tymoshenko to Wanted List
UK Foreign Secretary David Cameron Tricked by Hoax Caller Posing as Former Ukrainian President
Kate Middleton's Absence from Colonel's Review Due to Chemotherapy
UK Foreign Secretary Deceived by Prank Video Call
Sunak Criticised Over D-Day Exit in BBC Debate
Rishi Sunak Apologizes for Leaving D-Day Commemoration Early
UK Woman Sentenced After Causing Fatal Crash While Sending Selfies
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen Assaulted in Central Copenhagen
UN to Add Israel to Human Rights Blacklist
Germany and France Oppose EU Luxury Car Restrictions to Russia
Plus-Sized Miss Alabama Sara Milliken Responds to Online Critics
Nigel Farage's Return Boosts Support for Reform UK Party
Labour Party to Pledge Recognition of Palestinian State in Election Manifesto
British Paratroopers Greeted by French Customs After D-Day Anniversary Airdrop
UK Statistics Watchdog Chief Urges Sunak to Clarify Labour Tax Claim Source
UK Conservatives Promise to Restore Child Benefit for Higher Earners
×