Philip R Lane: Inflation in the near-term and the medium-term

Opening remarks by Mr Philip R Lane, Member of the Executive Board of the European Central Bank, at the Market News International (MNI) Market News Webcast, Frankfurt am Main, 17 February 2022.

Central bank speech  | 
18 February 2022
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 |  10 pages

In these brief opening remarks, I wish to discuss the forces shaping near-term and medium-term inflation dynamics.

On near-term inflation, I emphasised in a blog post last week that the current high inflation rates have been largely shaped by a pandemic cycle that has generated global bottlenecks for manufactured goods over the last year and, most importantly for the euro area, has seen a very substantial surge in energy prices in recent months.

A comprehensive analysis of the implications of high energy prices for near-term and medium-term inflation dynamics should take into account four factors: first, the direct impact through the energy component of the HICP; second, the indirect impact, since energy is an important input for many other components of the HICP, such as food, transportation, goods and many consumer services; third, the potential for second-round effects on wages, with due differentiation between a one-off or catch-up wage adjustment and a revision in inflation expectations that would have persistent effects on wage growth; and, fourth, the macroeconomic impact, with high energy prices operating through negative income and wealth effects, while also affecting energy-sensitive production and investment plans. At a global level, the macroeconomic impact of an energy shock differs between energy-producing and energy-using regions. Since the euro area is a significant net importer of energy, a surge in energy prices constitutes a significant adverse terms of trade shock. Higher import prices for energy reduces the disposable incomes of households and the cash flows of energy-intensive firms. The impact of this terms of trade shock on euro area macroeconomic dynamics will warrant close monitoring in the coming quarters.