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Still more inflation in the pipeline

We’ve stopped digging out illustrations of the times when inflation in Germany was at comparable levels. Let’s put it like this: most citizens and policymakers have hardly ever seen these kinds of inflation rates in their professional lives.

Sure, the surge in headline inflation is still dominantly driven by energy and commodity prices. However, looking at available regional data, the pass-through of these higher prices to the broader economy is in full swing. In some regional states, food inflation was already at double-digit levels and prices for leisure activities, hospitality, and more general services have been accelerating in recent months. The inflation rate for these items is far above the European Central Bank’s 2% target. In fact, in April only 17 out of the 94 main components of the German inflation basket had inflation rates of 2% or less. The only significant U-turn in the upward inflation trend was in packaged holidays. However, this was rather driven by the so-called Easter Bunny effect (the timing of the Easter break) and not so much by disinflationary trends. Consequently, any drop in core inflation on the back of lower packaged holidays inflation will be temporary.

Looking ahead, the fact that monthly price increases are still far above their historic average (0.9% month-on-month in May compared with 0.2% in a ‘normal’ May) illustrates the high inflationary pipeline pressure. As much as we would like to see a levelling off in inflation rates, with the war in Ukraine and continued tension and upward pressure on energy, commodity and food prices, headline inflation in Germany will accelerate further in the coming months.

We think that the pass-through to all kinds of sectors is still in full swing. Add to this the additional price mark-ups in the hospitality, culture and leisure sectors after the end of lockdowns and it is hard to see inflation coming down significantly any time soon. Against the backdrop of recent geopolitical events, we now expect German inflation to average at more than 8% this year with a chance that monthly inflation rates will enter double-digit territory in the summer.

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