As profits become essential to determining the outlook for inflation, the European Central Bank has stepped up its efforts to acquire data that is normally only revealed with a long time lag and little detail. This year, the central bank started tracking the quarterly calls when company executives discuss financial results with analysts as part of the policy-setting process, Mr. Lane said.
Headline rates of inflation in the eurozone have dropped considerably from their peak last year, and on Thursday, data showed that Spain’s inflation rate fell below 2 percent in June. But other measures of domestic price pressures are still quite strong. Inflation data for the whole eurozone for June is set to be published on Friday. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg expect the headline rate to decline to 5.6 percent, from 6.1 percent in May, while core inflation, which excludes energy and food prices, is expected to rise to 5.5 percent from 5.3 percent.
Further ahead, the central bank forecasts the headline rate of inflation to be around 3 percent next year. But there’s a risk that the “last kilometer” in getting to the target proves tougher than expected, Mr. Lane said, a concern echoed by the Bank for International Settlements, which acts as a bank for central banks.
“We do have a 2 percent target, we don’t have a 3 percent target,” Mr. Lane said. “There’s still going to be a lot to do to go from 3 to 2 percent.”
Beyond July, when the central bank is expected to raise rates, Mr. Lane said it was best to have “no signals” about what policymakers would do next, because of all the uncertainty about the path of inflation, but he expected interest rates to restrict economic growth for “quite some time.”
Some other members of the bank’s Governing Council, however, have suggested that interest rates will need to rise again in September. And the bank’s president, Christine Lagarde, this week pushed back against investors’ expectations that interest rates would be cut next year, saying that monetary policy need to be “restrictive” and stay there “for as long as necessary.”