ECB faces call to end private meetings after Lane leak

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank Chief Economist Philip Lane speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, U.S., September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Gary He

By Francesco Canepa

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank is facing a call to stop the practice of holding closed-door meetings with the private sector after ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane reportedly disclosed an unpublished inflation forecast at one such event.

The Financial Times reported on Thursday that Lane had revealed in a private meeting with German economists that the ECB expects to hit its 2% inflation goal by 2025 – information that was not in the public domain and which could be used to make inferences about the future path of interest rates.

The newspaper’s report was partly disputed by the ECB, the central bank for the 19 countries that share the euro currency.

Sven Giegold, a prominent member of the European Parliament, told Reuters he would request in a letter to ECB President Christine Lagarde that such meetings be stopped.

“The ECB has to end the practice of exclusive meetings with the private sector where it is not transparent what they said,” Giegold told Reuters.

An ECB spokesperson declined to comment on Giegold’s remarks.

Euro zone government bond yields rose and the euro rebounded after the FT report was published, and did not reverse the move after the partial denial. [GVD/EUR]

The FT said Lane had told the audience that the ECB’s “medium-term reference scenario” showed inflation rebounding to 2% “soon after the end of its three-year forecast period”.

See also  Another make-or-break week for Europe?

The ECB disputed the details of the report, which it called inaccurate, and the FT’s conclusion that euro zone interest rates could be raised in 2023.

“Mr Lane didn’t say in any conversation with analysts that the euro area will reach 2% inflation soon after the end of the ECB’s projection horizon,” an ECB spokesperson said in a written statement early on Friday.

Asked about the 2025 date mentioned by the paper, the spokesperson did not comment.

The Financial Times did not respond to a request for comment.

Giegold, the Greens’ coordinator on the European Parliament committee that oversees the ECB, said the confusion showed the ECB’s communication approach “had failed miserably”.

“You don’t know whether to believe the newspaper or the ECB’s public message,” the German politician said.

“This approach has totally failed and the ECB has to change strategy.”

He said the ECB should either end such meetings altogether or publish recordings to avoid any confusion.

The ECB updated its economic forecasts last week, when it also reduced the pace of its pandemic emergency bond purchases. It now sees inflation at 2.2% this year, 1.7% next year and 1.5% in 2023.

The central bank has pledged not to raise rates until it sees inflation hitting 2% well before the end of its forecast horizon, which is typically between two and three years. Money markets have priced in a rate hike three years from now.

Earlier this year, Lane was forced to suspend one-on-one meetings with investors immediately following policy meetings, due in part to public criticism of such engagements. But he has still been meeting with groups of economists.

See also  Here's why stock prices fluctuate and what you need to know as an investor

At the time ECB President Lagarde defended “exchanging views with representatives of the private sector − including financial market participants” because they help transmit the central bank’s policy to the economy.

Disclaimer: Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. All CFDs (stocks, indexes, futures) and Forex prices are not provided by exchanges but rather by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual market price, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Therefore Fusion Media doesn`t bear any responsibility for any trading losses you might incur as a result of using this data.

Fusion Media or anyone involved with Fusion Media will not accept any liability for loss or damage as a result of reliance on the information including data, quotes, charts and buy/sell signals contained within this website. Please be fully informed regarding the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, it is one of the riskiest investment forms possible.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here