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Consequences of inflation: Are companies ripping us off?


The Germans have a suspicion. It reads: Companies abuse inflation as a pretext for excessive price increases.

The head has now gotten used to the pure number, but the wallet is still suffering: inflation in Germany is currently 10 percent.

Not only are the prices for energy much higher than a year ago, but also for food - and if you go through the department store, you will find a few other places where the hole in your wallet is eaten bigger and bigger.

Patrick Bernau

Responsible editor for economy and "value" of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

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Dennis Kremer

Editor in the “Value” section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sunday newspaper.

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Now the suspicion arises: Isn't all this just because of the expensive oil, electricity and gas - and because of the wage increases, which are higher than before in many sectors?

Is that perhaps also because some companies are increasing their profits?

This much is certain: inflation always comes from companies raising their prices.

And, of course, companies always want to raise their prices.

But they usually can't enforce this, and then they often lose too many buyers.

It could be different in inflation: firstly, customers may be more understanding of price increases, and secondly, the market is on the move anyway.

Nobody really knows anymore which product is cheap or expensive where.

It could take some time for buyers to get a new overview and for suppliers to compete against each other again.

Views of agriculture, construction and trade

In the past few days, the suspicion has been fueled.

In the Dresden branch of the Ifo Institute, the economist Joachim Ragnitz has calculated that at least one or the other company's prices could have risen faster than the costs.

For him, agriculture, construction and trade are at the forefront.

Ragnitz also has very convincing explanations for this: Farmers probably benefited from the high world market price last year.

The Ukraine war has pushed up the prices of wheat and many other things.

This also gave German farmers the chance to raise their prices.

A slightly different mechanism could be at work in construction: many people wanted to build or renovate a house there, and staff and materials were scarce for months.

No wonder companies then raise their prices.

Ragnitz attributes the fact that consumers are participating in all this not least to the fact that many Germans still had money in their accounts that they could not spend wisely during the pandemic.

So they had the purchasing power to pay higher prices.

For the average German citizen, this situation will be over by mid-2022 at the latest, as other economists at the Ifo Institute calculated this year.

Is earnings inflation just a limited phenomenon?

This makes the question all the more important: Is this profit inflation only a limited phenomenon, or does it affect the whole of the German economy?

Listed companies have to constantly report on their business, which is why you can see from their numbers whether individual companies have been able to increase their profits disproportionately.

The FAS therefore took a closer look at the most important German companies listed in the Dax, M-Dax and Tech-Dax.

Source: faz

All news articles on 2022-12-19

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