ECB officials criticize new stimuli from Draghi at the end of his term

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AMSTERDAM (Reuters) – Monetary policy authorities of the European Central Bank on Friday criticized the new stimulus measures launched by the agency, expressing doubts about the need and effectiveness of a package that could consume most of the tools available to it the ECB.

Klaas Knot, president of the Dutch central bank and member of the governing board of the European Central Bank (ECB), attends a finance conference in Madrid, Spain. FILE PHOTO. REUTERS / Susana Vera

Faced with a scenario of prolonged slowdown in the European economy, the ECB on Thursday cut the bank deposit rate to an even more negative level and decided to relaunch its bond purchases without setting a deadline, which divided its Governing Council, the entity in charge of setting the monetary policy.

Although there was no vote, sources with direct knowledge of the debate said that more than a third of the authorities opposed the measures promoted by the outgoing president of the ECB, Mario Draghi, an unusually high number for an agency that normally strives to achieve consensus.

"This broad package of measures, in particular the revival of the asset purchase program, is disproportionate in relation to the current economic conditions, and there are strong reasons to doubt its effectiveness," said the head of the Dutch central bank, Klaas Knot, who frequently criticizes the monetary policy of the ECB.

Although disagreements are frequent, ECB authorities often make a common front in public and refrain from openly criticizing the decisions of the Governing Council.

Knot said that the euro zone economy is functioning at full capacity, wages are increasing and that financing conditions are so favorable that they do not impede the flow of credit.

"There is increasing evidence of low-risk asset shortages, distortion of prices in financial markets and excessive risk-seeking behavior in real estate markets," Knot added.

For his part, the governor of the Austrian Central Bank, Robert Holzmann, said he was concerned that the ECB had made a mistake and that such a comprehensive package of measures should not have been submitted before the revision of the monetary policy envisaged by the bank, which could even reduce the inflation target.

"I expected the bank to do it (the review) before making this decision," Holzmann told Bloomberg TV.

“It may be that 2% at this time is out of reach and 1.5% also means stable prices, almost stable prices. Therefore, there is no need to … use all the power we have to go up to 2% if the cost is too high, ”he said.

The head of the Slovenian central bank, Bostjan Vasle, said the ECB is willing to do even more if necessary, since both growth and inflation are weak.

Reports by Bart Meijer and Michael Shields. Edited in Spanish by Marion Giraldo

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