Villeroy Says ECB to Clarify Rate Liftoff's Timing by Summer '19

(Bloomberg) -- European Central Bank Governing Council member Francois Villeroy de Galhau said that more clarity on the timing of the first interest-rate increase since 2011 will come by the summer of next year, but policymakers will keep their options open for a while longer yet.

Villeroy Says ECB to Clarify Rate Liftoff's Timing by Summer '19

As the end of the ECB’s bond-buying in December approaches, attention has turned to its commitment to keep interest rates on hold “through the summer” of 2019 -- a formula that gives policy makers flexibility but has puzzled some investors.

“We have to consider here the trade-off between more clarity today and flexibility tomorrow,” he said in the text of a panel discussion in Bali on Sunday. “I wouldn’t see any value in trading off our flexibility tomorrow against more clarity today, but as we approach the summer of 2019, the balance will shift in favor of detailing our forward guidance.”

The central bank should also keep its options open before spelling out for how long it will keep reinvesting the 2.6 trillion euros ($3 trillion) assets it bought under its quantitative-easing program, he said in the text.

Villeroy, who is also head of the Bank of France, sent an implicit warning to the Italian government, some of whose members have at times called on the ECB to step in to stem the rise in yields on the country’s debt. The ECB’s policy path “doesn’t depend on the fiscal uncertainties that can appear in member states,” he said on the panel.

“The Governing Council is clear about the fact that there is no fiscal dominance in the euro area and no influence of any national fiscal policy on our common monetary policy,” Villeroy said.

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