Eurozone interest rates

EU interest rates up again to 4%

Eurozone interest rates have been hiked again to a record high by the European Central Bank (ECB).

The bank raised its key rate for the 10th time in a row, to 4% from 3.75%, as it warned inflation was expected to remain too high for too long.

The latest increase came after forecasts predicted inflation, which is the rate prices rise at, would be 5.6% on average in 2023. However, the ECB signalled that this latest hike could be the last for now.

‘The council considers that the key ECB interest rates have reached levels that, maintained for a sufficiently long duration, will make a substantial contribution to the timely return of inflation to the target’, the bank reportedly said. The central bank originally expected inflation to be ‘transitory’.

It added that it expected inflation in the 20-nation bloc to fall to around 2.9% next year and 2.2% in 2025.

As in other parts of the world, the eurozone has been hit by rising food and energy prices that have squeezed household budgets and from the Russia/Ukraine war. Central banks have been increasing interest rates in an attempt to tame inflation and slow rising prices.

More expensive to borrow

The theory behind increasing rates is that by making it more expensive for people to borrow money, the ‘consumer’ will then have less excess cash to spend, meaning households will buy fewer things and then price rises will ease. But it is a balancing act as raising rates too aggressively could cause a recession.

Interest rates in the UK are currently higher than in the eurozone at 5.25%, but UK inflation is also higher at 6.8%, and the Bank of England is expected to raise rates again next week.

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