German, French Central Bankers Say Inflation Will Return to Goal

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(Bloomberg) — European Central Bank officials from the region’s two biggest economies said they’re determined to bring record inflation back to their 2% target. 

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Speaking in a joint television interview on German channel Phoenix, Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel and Bank of France Governor Francois Villeroy de Galhau said the ECB’s tightening push will eventually tame price growth that’s currently running at five times its goal.  

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“We’ll bring inflation back to 2% by the end of 2024 or 2025,” Villeroy said. “This isn’t just a forecast, a projection. It’s a commitment.”

The ECB has raised borrowing costs by 200 basis points since July and is less than two weeks away from its next policy meeting. Officials are expected to enact another interest-rate hike and agree on the modalities for reducing the roughly €5 trillion ($5.3 trillion) in bonds on their balance sheet. 

Several officials have said they’re still undecided between a third straight 75-basis point move and a half-point step. Nagel said the decision will be guided by the latest data. 

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“We’ll have new projections for 2023, 2024 and for the first time for the year 2025. This will be the basis for our decision,” Nagel said. “It’s clear that rate increases must continue.” 

Asked how long borrowing costs will rise, Villeroy said “for as long as necessary.” 

Governments have meanwhile used hundreds of billions of euros to shield companies and households from surging energy costs, which central bankers have said may undermine their efforts to stamp out inflation. Nagel and Villeroy urged a return to more balanced budgets soon. 

“A special situation is a special situation, but at some point it’s over,” Nagel said. “The signal from fiscal policy must clearly be a return to the debt brake” and an adherence to European fiscal rules, he said. 

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