European Central Bank announces largest interest rate hike in bid to fight inflation

The European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday announced a record rate hike in a bid to stifle record inflation across the euro area. The ECB’s three key interest rates were each raised by 75 basis points.

The Euro logo is seen in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) building in Frankfurt am Main, central Germany, on September 5, 2013. The European Central Bank (ECB) on September 5, 2013 held its key rates unchanged as expected at its regular monthly policy meeting. AFP PHOTO / DANIEL ROLAND

“This major step frontloads the transition from the prevailing highly accommodative level of policy rates towards levels that will ensure the timely return of inflation to the ECB’s 2% medium-term target,” the bank’s Governing Body said in a statement.

It also flagged to markets that “over the next several meetings the Governing Council expects to raise interest rates further to dampen demand and guard against the risk of a persistent upward shift in inflation expectations.”

The move sees the ECB follow in the policy footstep of the US Federal Reserve which carried out two jumbo rate hikes of 0.75 points in June and July.

It also comes just over a month after the ECB operated its first increase in 11 years by a larger-than-expected 0.5%.

ECB President Christine Lagarde stressed during a press conference that any further interest rate increase would be “data dependent and follow meeting by meeting approach”.

Inflation across the 19 countries of the eurozone reached a record 9.1% last month led by a surge in energy, and in particular gas, prices.

The Frankfurt institution, which tries to keep inflation at around 2%, has significantly revised up its forecast and now expects inflation to average 8.1% this year before starting a slow decrease and settle at 5.5% in 2023 and 2.3% in 2024.

It meanwhile expects economic growth to take a hit and reach 3.1% in 2022, 0.9% next year and 1.9% the following year.