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It's even higher than expected. If Spain's inflation rate was already, at the end of 2021, looming as a major potential threat to the economic recovery during the first half of the year, then the orange lights of caution were quickly turned to red by Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent energy crisis, which has caused the Spanish state's Consumer Price Index, the IPC, to soar to 7.6% in February, the highest figure in almost 36 years: a figure this high has not been reached since February 1986. This latest figure means that the year-on-year CPI has now risen for the last fourteen months, and for the last three in a row the total has exceeded the 6% mark, a figure unknown in the Spanish economy in more than thirty years.

The main 'culprits' of this new rise in prices are the same as last month: electricity prices, which fell less than in February 2021; the rise in restaurant and hospitality industry prices, and the rise in the price of petroleum products: diesel for heating, and transport fuels. Yesterday, for example, new historical records for petrol prices were set across the Spanish state (with unleaded 98 exceeding 2 euros per litre), as well as for some foods: such as legumes, vegetables, milk, cheese, eggs, bread and cereals.

All these rises have been percolating in the economy for some time, with heating, electricity, and tap water having risen by 51.7% over the last year, oils and fats by 28.1%, and transport by 13.3% due to the higher fuel costs. Furthermore, without the reduction in the special excise charged on electricity and several variations in other taxes - measures applied by the Spanish government in an attempt to ease the pain of the electricity rises - the year-on-year CPI would have reached 8.5%, almost a full one percent more.

As for the underlying inflation rate, that is, excluding energy products and processed foods, this figure is less than half as much, although it increased by 0.6% in February to 3% and has also reached its highest rate since September 2008, indicating the presence of an inflation which is more long-term. The steady increase of Spain's IPC since February 2021 actually took a break last month - with a 0.4 percent fall - but this month's 0.8% increase more than cancelled it out, due to the rise in the prices of fuels and petroleum products, fruit and other food products, and the hospitality industry.

Same monthly increase in Catalonia

In Catalonia the general situation has not been very different, and in February the annual inflation rate reached 7.4%, an increase of 0.8 percent over the January rate, and a 1.5 percent rise compared to last year, leaving Catalonia as the Spanish autonomous community with the fourth lowest year-on-year rate, behind Ceuta and the Canary Islands (both 6.8%) and Madrid (6.9%), and equal with the Basque Country.

Within Catalonia, all provinces demarcations recorded an increase in prices compared to January: in Lleida prices rose by 1.1%, in Girona by 0.9%, in Barcelona by 0.8% and in Tarragona by 0.5%. On a year-on-year basis, the territory in which prices rose the most was Lleida (9.6%), followed by Tarragona (8.3%), Barcelona (7.5%) and Girona (7.1%).