FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank (ECB) said it is preparing for a cycle of higher borrowing costs that will push the rate of its main policy into positive territory, but the path it takes is more important than the date set for the first hike. The foundation’s chief economist, Philip Lane, on Thursday.
“I think it is clear that at some point we will move in prices, not just one time, but over time, in a sequence,” he told think-tank (thinking group) Bruegel.
“When will it start exactly? (…) This question should not be considered the most important,” he added.
While inflation in the eurozone reached 7.5% on an annual basis in March, the highest level since the creation of the single currency, several ECB officials, including Isabel Schnabel, a member of the institution’s executive board, are calling for a faster end to the central bank. The bond-buying program, which begins in July, is a prelude to raising interest rates.
Philip Lane believes, however, that the general course of central bank policy normalization and the definition of the neutral rate, the level at which it neither stimulates nor constrains the economy, are two more relevant topics.
“The -0.5% rate (the current deposit rate) is not in line with the 2% inflation target,” he argues. “Si nous pensons que l’inflation se stabilisera autour de 2%, -0.5% n’est pas cohérent, zéro n’est pas cohérent. Nous savons que la normalization ira au-delà de cela”, at- adds.
(Reporting by Balaz Kurani and Francesco Canepa; French version by Claude Chengo, Editing by Marc Angrand)
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