Steinbrück warns of high inflation when global economy recovers


THE WORLD could face high inflation and a “crisis after the crisis” when the global economy recovers, Peer Steinbrück, German finance minister, has warned.

The comments, in a weekend interview, are the latest sign of concern from Germany at the extra-loose monetary policies conducted by central banks around the world and the ever-larger fiscal stimuli being unveiled by governments.

“I am concerned that the counter-measures we are seeing around the world, financed by enormous amounts of debts, could be paving the road to the next crisis,” Mr Steinbrück told Bild, a tabloid daily.

“So much money is being pumped into the market that capital markets could easily become overwhelmed, resulting in a global period of inflation in the recovery.”

Mr Steinbrück’s remarks follow a warning by Angela Merkel, chancellor, that pumping too much money into reviving global growth would create an unstable recovery.

German officials fear the liquidity being injected into financial markets could prove difficult to reabsorb, creating long-term inflationary pressure and, possibly, new asset price bubbles.

“We do not have a short-term inflation problem,” Mr Steinbrück said. “But in the medium term we must start thinking about how to pull the billions we are pumping into our economies out of the system again. This will be a special challenge for the central banks, including for the European Central Bank.”

Because of its strong reliance on exports, the German economy has been one of the worst affected in Europe by the global economic downturn.

It is set to shrink by 4.5-7 per cent this year and statistics published last week showed Germany had its lowest inflation in 11 years.

Peter Bofinger, one of the five top academics who advise the government on economic policy and, like Mr Steinbrück, a member of the Social Democratic party, said that Berlin’s concerns about inflation were unwarranted.

“Germany faces no risk of inflation for the foreseeable future. On the contrary, I see a clear danger of deflation,” he told the website.