European Countries Begin To Taper COVID-Era Monetary Stimulus
Flag of Europe or European Flag is the symbol of Council of Europe Coe and The European Union EU as seen in the Belgian capital Brussel. Brussels, Belgium on November 19, 2021
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The European Central Bank and the Bank of England are tapering monetary stimulus programs introduced in response to COVID-19.

The Bank of England is the first major central bank to hike interest rates, according to The New York Times:

Policymakers voted to raise the bank’s interest rate by 15 basis points to 0.25 percent. The rate had been at 0.1 percent since March 2020, when the onset of the pandemic sent financial markets careening and the government first introduced lockdown measures.

The Bank of England was the first major central bank to raise interest rates as inflation climbed to the highest level in a decade and the bank said it would not peak until April. Eight of the nine policymakers voted for a rate increase, compared with just two in November. After the announcement the pound jumped against the U.S. dollar, gaining more than 1 percent.

The New York Times also reported that the European Central Bank — which manages the euro — will modify its asset purchases while keeping its interest rates intact:

The European Central Bank announced on Thursday that it would end its pandemic-era bond-buying program in March, but would try to ease the transition by pledging additional support for the eurozone economy in the coming year.

The bank left its interest rate untouched, and Christine Lagarde, the bank’s president, said that it was “very unlikely” it would move higher in the coming year despite rising inflation, which the bank sees as largely driven by high energy prices…

Given the uncertainty caused by the latest variant of the coronavirus, Omicron, which has led European governments to reintroduce lockdowns and other restrictions on public life, E.C.B. policymakers said they needed “to maintain flexibility.”

The moves from the European financial institutions come after similar policies from the Federal Reserve Bank of the United States.

In March 2020, the Federal Reserve pegged a near-zero interest rate target and started making monthly bond purchases of $120 billion. In November, officials revealed the first step in rolling back monetary stimulus — slashing bond purchases by $15 billion in both November and December. On Wednesday, however, central bankers announced that they would accelerate the conclusion to their quantitative easing program while hiking interest rates three times in 2022.

As in Europe, price levels are continuing to rise in the United States.

According to the Bureau of Economic Analysis, the Personal Consumption Expenditures Price Index — which the Federal Reserve uses to inform monetary policy decisions — hit a year-over-year rate of 4.1% in October. More recently, the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the Consumer Price Index is rising at a 6.8% clip — the largest year-over-year increase since June 1982.

Also on Wednesday, the Penn Wharton Budget Model — a nonpartisan public policy research initiative at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School — discovered that inflation trends require the typical American household to spend around $3,500 more in 2021 to maintain their standards of living.

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