Benoit Coeuré

Claire Jones

It appears that the ECB’s top brass are divided over whether or not the recent rise in Spanish bond yields is warranted.

Bloomberg on Wednesday attributed the following comments to ECB executive board member Benoît Coeuré:

European Central Bank Executive Board member Benoit Coeure suggested that the bank could revive its bond-purchase program to reduce Spain’s borrowing costs.

“Market conditions are not justified,” Coeuré said at an event in Paris today. “Will the ECB intervene? We have an instrument, the securities markets program, which hasn’t been used recently but it still exists.”…

…”We have a new government in Spain that has taken very strong deficit measures,” Coeuré said. “All this takes time. The political will is enormous.”

Mr Coeuré’s view that Madrid’s political will is “enormous” contrasts somewhat with comments made by his boss, ECB president Mario Draghi at last Wednesday’s presser, which suggested that market pressure was justified both by economic fundamentals and the Spanish government’s inaction. Read more

Ralph Atkins

How far would the European Central Bank under Mario Draghi go in cutting interest rates?

The ECB president has taken care to rule out little in the way of possible steps were the eurozone crisis to deteriorate again. But Benoît Cœuré, the ECB’s new French executive board member, has hinted at one limit. In a speech delivered in the US a few days ago but just published on the ECB’s website, he warns of the potential costs of reducing interest rates to zero, or even pushing them into negative territory. Read more

Ralph Atkins

A chink in the European Central Bank’s tough stance on bond buying? Benoît Coeuré, nominated by France to join the ECB executive board, told the European Parliament late on Monday that bond purchases might have to be stepped up. He thus went beyond the comments in his written evidence, which I wrote about in a previous post.

“If we feel there is a deterioration in terms of the transmission of monetary policy, then we should do more,” Mr Coeuré said, according to Reuters. Read more

Ralph Atkins

Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s president, who strongly believes the ECB should be acting far more aggressively in combating the eurozone crisis, lobbied hard to have a compatriot on the European Central Bank’s executive board. Last month, a place finally became vacant when Lorenzo Bini Smaghi announced his departure for Harvard University.

Mr Sarkozy’s nominee to replace him, Benoît Coeuré, deputy director general and chief economist at the French treasury, has now outlined his views in written evidence submitted to the European Parliament.

Anyone hoping he would create a revolution at the ECB may be disappointed. On the main points of ECB policy, there appears little that would upset Frankfurt. Read more

Ralph Atkins

Just what the eurozone did not need right now: another possible German-Franco row, this time over jobs at the European Central Bank. In Brussels late on Tuesday, Wolfgang Schäuble, German finance minister, pressed for his deputy Jörg Asmussen to take over the ECB’s economics department from Jürgen Stark when he joins the ECB’s six-man executive board at the start of 2012.

The problem is that France’s Benoit Coeuré, an academic economist as well as French civil servant, who will arrive at the ECB at the same time as Mr Asmussen, is arguably much better suited for the economics portfolio.  Read more