ECB needs more rate hikes, smaller balance sheet, Nagel says

ECB needs more rate hikes, smaller balance sheet, Nagel says

15 Oct    Finance News

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WASHINGTON — The European Central Bank (ECB) needs several more rate hikes to tame inflation despite what is likely to be a deep recession in Germany, and should also look into scaling down its balance sheet, Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel said on Saturday.

The ECB has raised rates twice already this year, but at 0.75%, its deposit rate is still seen far below levels most consider to be appropriate when inflation is running at 10% and could hold above the bank’s 2% target for years to come.

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“Further interest rate hikes will be needed to bring the inflation rate back to 2% in the medium term – not just at the monetary policy meeting at the end of October,” Nagel said in a speech in Washington.

“The ECB Governing Council must not let up too soon.”

Markets currently price in a 75 basis point move on Oct. 27, the same as September’s increase, and few if any policymakers have pushed back publicly on these expectations.

“As monetary policy continues to normalize, we will also need to look into scaling back Eurosystem asset holdings, which amount to almost 5 trillion euros,” Nagel added.

While the ECB has provided no timeline for reducing its balance sheet, a process often called quantitative tightening, policymakers appear to be advocating a start only in 2023, arguing that the bulk of the rate hikes should take place before the ECB starts letting some of its debt pile expire.

Monetary policy tightening is needed as inflation is likely to stay high, and Nagel predicted Germany’s rate would reach more than 7% next year.

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A complication in the process is that the 19-country euro zone faces a recession with Germany, its biggest economy, likely among the biggest losers.

“GDP (in Germany) could decline significantly in the final quarter of 2022 and the first quarter of 2023,” Nagel said. “This would imply a recession, that is a significant, broad-based and longer-lasting decrease in economic output.” (Reporting by Balazs Koranyi Editing by Helen Popper )

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