ECB should keep policy options open regardless of Fed

Published: October 14, 2018 12:32:25 | Updated: October 17, 2018 11:23:24


The skyline with its financial district and the head quarters of the European Central Bank (ECB,R) is photographed in the early evening in Frankfurt, Germany, October 5, 2018. Reuters/Files

The European Central Bank should keep its policy options open and not let itself be influenced by the Federal Reserve, ECB policymaker Francois Villeroy de Galhau said on Sunday.

Encouraged by a recovery in euro zone inflation, the ECB expects to stop adding to its 2.6 trillion euro ($3.0 trillion) pile of bonds at the end of this year and has guided the market to expect a rate hike some time in late 2019.

Villeroy said the ECB would soon decide how to reinvest the proceeds of the bonds that expire next year but should not yet commit beyond that point.

“We should keep our options open about the timing of our reinvestment in the following years,” he told a conference on the sidelines of the International Monetary Fund’s annual meeting in the Indonesian resort town of Nusa Dua.

The French central bank governor added that rate-setters should wait a little longer to clarify their guidance on interest rates, which currently just says they will stay at their current, rock-bottom level “at least through the summer of 2019”.

“As we approach the summer of 2019, the balance will shift in favour of detailing our forward guidance,” Villeroy said, according to Reuters news agency.

Six rate hikes by the Fed in 1-1/2 years have sent the US dollar rallying against the currencies of fragile emerging economies such as Argentina and Turkey, forcing their central banks to also increase borrowing costs to arrest the slide.

The euro zone has been relatively insulated and Villeroy said the ECB should proceed at its own pace.

“I think the euro area can determine its own course,” he said.

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