Prices rise by five percent Highest US inflation since 2008
Status: 10.06.2021 5:44 p.m.
In the USA, consumer prices have risen as sharply as they did almost 13 years ago – which is felt above all by car buyers. The European Central Bank also expects higher inflation in the euro countries. Is it just a short-term phenomenon or is inflation now making its big comeback? In the USA there is a growing fear of ever higher prices. Some are already pulling Parallels to the 1970s when President Jimmy Carter failed to get a grip on high inflation and job misery. Although the USA is still a long way from the double-digit inflation rates of that time, the price jumps are getting bigger from month to month. After inflation had risen above four percent in April, it has now climbed to 5.0 percent in May. That is the highest rate since August 2008. Experts had only expected an increase in the cost of living of 4.7 percent. “The dreaded five has become a reality,” said market observer Thomas Altmann from investment management company QC Partners.
Federal Reserve under pressure
The strong growth impressively proves that the price surge in April was not a slip-up, said LBBW analyst Dirk Chlench. “The US Federal Reserve is coming under increasing pressure to reconsider its view that the recent price hikes are only of a temporary nature.” As in April, the prices for used cars turned out to be the biggest inflation driver. They rose again strongly – and, according to the US Department of Labor, accounted for around a third of the monthly price increase.
Core inflation at its highest level since 1992
Particularly alarming is core inflation, which excludes volatile components such as energy and food. It climbed 3.8 percent in May. The last time there was such a sharp increase was in 1992. In April, the core inflation rate was 3.0 percent. The end of the corona lockdowns and the trillion dollar cash injections by the US government have been driving inflation in the US for months. Prominent economists like Larry Summers, Olivier Blanchard and Mohamed El-Erian warn against underestimating the danger. According to Blanchard, the high government spending under US President Joe Biden could overheat the economy.
Just a passing trend?
Most economists are still looking at the trend with serenity, however. In their opinion, the development is mainly based on temporary factors. The US service sector is back in normal mode in many places. Prices for air travel and hotel accommodation are picking up again and are well above the previous year’s level, says chief economist Thomas Gitzel from VP Bank. “So there are so-called base effects at work once more.” At the same time, the shortage of semiconductors is now at least indirectly affecting consumer prices. If there are no new cars due to a lack of semiconductors, customers switched to used cars. These would have become significantly more expensive. Gitzel predicts that the price level will slowly drop from a high level in the summer months. The US Federal Reserve (Fed) claims that inflation will only pick up temporarily. Because compared to the previous year, the economic downturn in the Corona year 2020 resulted in high rates of price increase. That is why the central bank has not yet seen itself under pressure.
Little movement on Wall Street
Wall Street barely reacted to the renewed surge in inflation. The Dow Jones rose by 0.6 percent, the S&P 500 even jumped to a record high. The US dollar gained against the euro. So investors do not anticipate a tightening of monetary policy in the US for the time being. In the eurozone, too, the money locks are still strongly open. The European Central Bank (ECB) is sticking to its trillion-dollar anti-corona crisis program (PEPP) and plans to expand bond purchases in the next quarter compared to the first three months of the year. In doing so, the central bank wants to avoid tightening the financing conditions for companies, states and private households.
ECB raises inflation forecast
The rising inflation hardly worries the euro watchdogs . The higher euro will dampen inflation, said ECB President Christine Lagarde. Nonetheless, the ECB raised its inflation forecast. According to the central bank, inflation should be 1.9 percent in 2021. In March, the ECB was still assuming an increase of 1.5 percent. For 2022, the monetary authorities expect an annual price increase of 1.5 percent and for the following year unchanged at 1.4 percent. According to the ECB, inflation that is too high can lead to a price spiral. Higher prices mean consumers get less goods for their money. So they demand higher wages in order to be able to maintain their standard of living. In turn, in order to pay the higher wages, companies continue to raise the prices of their products. On the other hand, permanently low prices are seen as a risk for the economy: companies and consumers could then postpone investments – in the hope that it will soon become even cheaper. In the medium term, the ECB is aiming for an annual inflation rate of just under two percent. In Germany, the inflation rate is already above this level. In May the Consumer prices compared to the same month last year by 2.5 percent , the highest value since September 2011.