Several conservative policymakers said that the European Central Bank may be underestimating inflation risks, just hours after the bank extended stimulus measures to keep price pressures high.
In recent months, inflation has exceeded even the most dismal estimates, and the ECB nearly doubled its 2022 projection on Thursday, but it maintained that longer-term price pressures are insufficient, and that price growth could fall back below its 2% target in the future.
On Thursday, the ECB agreed to conclude its emergency stimulus programme in March, but continued to buy bonds and effectively ruled out a rate hike in 2022, ensuring low rates for months to come.
Lithuanian policymaker Gediminas Simkus said that "due to Omicron, uncertainty, long-term supply disruptions, rising energy prices, and contagion into production pricing, the risk balance is skewed toward higher inflation. As a result, the risks to GDP growth are on the downside."
Policymaker Olli Rehn said it was not a given that price growth would remain at a higher level, but he did acknowledge risks. "I'm well aware that rising inflation flows through to our everyday lives."
"However, unless it is followed by second-round effects and a wage-price spiral, the variables that have been driving inflation this year will not lead to a longer-term increase in inflation."
The ECB also said that it expects banks to have liquid assets that cover at least the cash they will lose in the first month of a crisis, reinstating a requirement that was suspended when the pandemic began.
"Because the special relief measure offered at the start of the pandemic has not been extended," the ECB said, "the ECB expects all banks to maintain a liquidity coverage ratio of over 100% as of 1 January 2022."