Wednesday, January 26, 2011

German Import Price Inflation Rose to 12%—So Here’s a Fearless Prediction

The pace of import-price inflation rose to an annual rate of 12% in Germany this past December, according to the German Federal Statistics Office. November’s pace was 10%. This is the fastest pace since October 1981.

Germany in the euro union.
Germany out of the euro union.
“Import-price inflation” is the metric by which the Germans measure all of the imported goods and commodities that they use, be it raw industrial metals or finished consumer goods. It is skewed towards raw commodities, and is a precursor to German inflation.

Indeed, commentators of all stripes say this import-price inflation will be passed on to the German consumers and result in euro inflation likely towards the end of the first quarter 2011.

How does euro inflation in Germany affect the Euro-Crisis in the preipheral economies?

Well, it’s not good: The Germans—famously—have a phobia to inflation, so any indication that it is rising in the eurozone will have the Germans pushing the European Central Bank to raise interest rates.

This could be disastrous to the PIIGS. Higher interest rates in the eurozone would mean higher costs of borrowing, exacerbating the debt crisis they have, while at the same time creating deflationary pressures in the peripheral countries. These deflationary pressures would result in further contractions, further unemployment, rising deficits, further crisis.

This is another example of why the euro as a common currency is such a dreadful scheme: German efforts to curb inflation will result in deflationary pressures in the periphery, likely breaking them.

The sensible solution, of course, would be allow inflation in the euro to creep along to 8% or so—but that is politically impossible in Germany.

So here’s a Fearless Predition:

The Hourly G is predicting that, because of German inflation fears, euro interest rates will rise come the spring, strengthening the euro—but triggering the next sovereign crisis come March-April of this year.

Update, 8:23am, 1/26/11:

Reader Alex From France doesn’t dispute the Fearless Prediction—only the timing of it. The Hourly G sees his point—so we’re updating the next euro-sovereign crisis to between March and June.


  1. I commend you for making precise and time-specific predictions, which takes some gall.

    I do not dispute the basic reasoning behind your prediction, but count me a sceptic on the timing side, since the whole process of:
    - inflation hurting German businesses and consumers, triggering pressure on the German government to push at EU level for higher rates
    - which pressures would eventually result in effectively higher rates after opposition from several other EU members has been won over
    - which higher rates would trigger a bigger sovereign crisis
    ... that looks to me as more than a three-months process.

  2. Tess of Kansas says: the modified time line sounds about right. March 30-June01, 2011 to start.

    August 2011 to June 2012 to admit that increased rates contributed to the next major shift in bond problems. But it won't be Germany that gets cited! They can't.

    Like the U.S., both are looking for something to point to when the surveilance cameras of history show that the dominos could no longer be saved from falling.

    Game over!


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