Central Banks Under Scrutiny As Inflation Slows

Global central banks face criticism for their slow response to falling inflation, sparking debates on interest rate cuts.

Why are central banks slow to respond to falling inflation?

Central banks are facing criticism for their delayed response to decreasing inflation rates, echoing similar concerns about their slow reaction to the surge in prices witnessed a generation ago. The debate intensifies as central banks, especially in Europe, grapple with the challenge of adjusting monetary policy without further straining already fragile economies, like Italy’s.

The European Central Bank (ECB) is at the center of this debate, following the drop in eurozone inflation to 2.4%, the lowest since July 2021. This development has also sparked discussion in the US and UK, although their inflation rates haven't decreased as significantly.

ECB Rate Cut Hopes Rise As German And Spanish Inflation Eases
Declining inflation in Germany and Spain signals a potential shift in ECB monetary policy, amidst a broader trend of easing eurozone inflation.

Investors Anticipate Interest Rate Cuts Amid Economic Uncertainty

Investors, reacting to the third consecutive month of lower-than-expected eurozone inflation data, are adjusting their forecasts, anticipating ECB rate cuts as early as next year. Oxford Economics' Innes McFee believes the ECB might be the most likely to adjust policies, given the expected rapid fall in inflation. This sentiment is echoed by Fabio Panetta, Italy’s new central bank governor, who suggests a need for rate cuts to avoid damage to economic activity and financial stability.

Contrasting Views On Monetary Policy Adjustments

Despite these predictions, there is a divide among policymakers. Dirk Schumacher, a former ECB economist, forecasts a rate cut by June next year, while Germany’s central bank head Joachim Nagel argues it’s too early to consider reducing key interest rates. The OECD's Clare Lombardelli supports this caution, suggesting that the ECB and Bank of England might not ease borrowing costs until 2025 due to persistent inflation pressures.

US Federal Reserve Maintains A Cautious Stance

In the US, the Federal Reserve remains resolute in its stance against prematurely easing monetary policy. Fed Chair Jay Powell emphasizes the readiness to tighten policy further if needed, reflecting a cautious approach to safeguard credibility and avoid misjudging inflation trends. Pantheon Economics' Ian Shepherdson predicts that the Fed might cut rates by early next year, given softening labor demand and moderating wage growth.

US Inflation Data Comes In Cool At 3.2%
Inflation is coming down, but remains above the 2% target set by the Federal Reserve.

Eurozone Focuses On Core Inflation And Political Pressures

The debate in the eurozone largely revolves around core inflation, with some economists arguing that it has already fallen to the ECB's target. However, others caution against rapid wage growth, potentially keeping inflation high. ECB President Christine Lagarde warns of a likely surge in eurozone inflation with the removal of government subsidies on energy prices.

In conclusion, while central banks face public and political pressure, particularly from highly indebted countries, the consensus leans towards a cautious approach in modifying monetary policy, ensuring a balanced response to the evolving economic landscape.

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