The world’s major central banks have long followed the same general flight path, guided by the economic winds of growth, inflation and financial markets. It has worked pretty well for policymakers in the United States, Europe, Japan, and the United Kingdom: moving together to tighten or loosen monetary policy makes things more predictable for citizens, businesses and investors. It also serves as buffer to any volatile currency movements, at least among developed economies. But six years after the worst recession in decades, this could be the year central bankers split off and – with some risk – go their own way.
German inflation figures for December will presage the euro zone number on Wednesday, together offering one of the final pieces of the jigsaw for the European Central Bank before its late January policy meeting at which it could commence a quantitative easing government bond-buying programme.
The European Central Bank meets today with the debate about quantitative easing running hot after Mario Draghi declared “excessively low” inflation had to be raised fast and that the ECB would act more forcefully if its existing efforts to pump money into the ailing euro zone economy fall short.
Two vital gauges of euro zone progress, or lack of it, today.
German inflation for November is forecast to slip to 0.6 percent and will cue up the euro zone figure on Friday, which is predicted to come in at just 0.3 percent. Spanish inflation, due earlier, is forecast to come in at -0.3 percent.
After Germany’s foreign minister saw “no reason for optimism” after talks in Moscow on Tuesday, today Hungary’s Peter Szijjarto meets Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Violence is on the rise again in eastern Ukraine and tougher sanctions against Russia remain a live possibility although EU foreign ministers limited themselves to targeting a few more Ukrainian separatists earlier this week.