There are no grounds at present for the European Central Bank to raise interest rates any further, Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau told Handelsblatt.
(Bloomberg) — There are no grounds at present for the European Central Bank to raise interest rates any further, Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau told Handelsblatt.
Since the ECB’s 10th successive hike last month, there have been “good” figures on inflation and a sharp rise in long term borrowing costs that may even be seen as “excessive,” the Bank of France chief was quoted as saying.
“Today, I think there’s no justification for an additional increase in the ECB rates,” he said in an interview with the German newspaper published Thursday. “There’s a lot of debate about the peak in rates: instead we should now talk of a plateau, and we’ll remain on this plateau as long as necessary.”
Several ECB officials are signaling that rates are probably at their peak, barring another shock to prices over the coming months that would warrant further action. A growing concern is the euro-zone economy, which has been losing momentum as its services industry follows manufacturing into a downturn.
“We are not facing the worst-case scenario of a hard landing that many feared last winter,” Villeroy said. “I believe our monetary policy can and should now aim for a soft landing for the euro zone: We’ll exit inflation, and we’ll probably do so without a recession.”
Speaking earlier in the day, Slovak central bank Governor Peter Kazimir reiterated his hope that the ECB’s unprecedented hiking campaign is over.
“I strongly believe that our rate hike at the last meeting was the last one,” he told reporters in Bratislava. “We’ll need to wait for the December and March forecasts. Only real data can persuade us that we’re at the peak.
Even if borrowing costs are at their high point, however, it’s too soon to start discussing cuts, according to ECB Executive Board member Luis de Guindos.
“It is premature — we are not there,” he told Cyprus News Agency in a video interview. “We believe that the present level of interest rates is going to make a very important contribution to achieve our price stability target that is 2%.”
Villeroy offered similar sentiments.
“Market expectations on both sides of the Atlantic have in the past been a little too optimistic regarding a future rate cut,” he said.
While slowing, inflation remains elevated and has not yet been defeated, according to Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel, citing in particular the “very high” core rate of price increases.
“We in the ECB Governing Council must continue our restrictive policy,” he said Thursday.
–With assistance from Daniel Hornak and Alexander Weber.
(Updates with Villeroy comments starting in first paragraph.)
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