Czechs Raise Rates to Highest Since 1999 as Price Risks Escalate

The Czech central bank lifted borrowing costs more than expected to the highest level since 1999 and signaled further monetary policy tightening to come as intensifying inflation pressure eclipses risks to economic growth, Bloomberg News reported. Policy makers on Thursday raised the benchmark rate by 75 basis points to 5.75% -- exceeding the forecasts of all analysts in a Bloomberg survey for a half-point move. The hike brings cumulative increases since June to 550 basis points. The central bank also significantly raised this year’s inflation projection, while trimming its outlook for gross domestic product to include a slight contraction in the second half of the year. While baseline forecasts suggested an even bigger rate increase, the board opted for a moderate move because of strong external cost pressures and the exceptionally high uncertainties and risks in the outlook. Governor Jiri Rusnok said more tightening is possible at future meetings. The Czechs are experiencing the fastest inflation in nearly a quarter century as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine drives up energy and raw-materials prices. While the key manufacturing industry grapples with component shortages and the economy may stall this year as a result, central bankers are concerned about signs that high prices are becoming entrenched. Read more.