mario draghi

Ferdinando Giugliano

With the eurozone facing the threat of a prolonged period of “low-flation”, the European Central Bank has been urged to stretch its monetary policy toolkit further and deploy more unconventional measures. One widely flagged option would be to cut the interest rate that banks receive for parking their money with the central bank to below its current zero level. Frankfurt would then replicate an experiment first tried by Denmark’s central bank, which in 2012 cut its deposit rate to -0.20 per cent.

As of Thursday, however, Denmark is no longer a valid comparison. The Danish National Bank has announced that, with effect from Friday, it will raise its deposit rate by 15 basis points to 0.05 per cent (it had already increased it to -0.10 per cent in January). Meanwhile, the central bankers in Copenhagen left the lending and the discount rate unchanged at 0.2 and 0 per cent respectively. Read more

Claire Jones

Mario Draghi has warned that, though unlikely, Europe’s fledgling economic recovery could be derailed by the turmoil in Ukraine.

While the direct financial and trade linkages between the European Union and Ukraine are small, the ECB president told lawmakers in Brussels yesterday that the geopolitical dimensions of the tensions could have a strength that goes beyond mere statistics on capital and current accounts.

One of the most important economic aspects of those geopolitical dimensions is the supply of Russian gas to the EU.

The EU’s reliance on Russia has dwindled over the past decade, but it still matters. The relationship still accounts for 30 per cent of all gas imported into the bloc and when Gazprom cut off Ukraine in 2009, the disruption to energy supplies hit the EU hard. And though the EU is now less reliant on receiving its gas via this route, there’s no way of Russia using the gas button against the Ukraine without it having some impact on the rest of Europe.

The popularity of this tweet by Reuters’ Jamie McGeever highlights the interest this geopolitical dimension has received:

But there are good reasons to bet against Russia turning off the gas tap, regardless of whether or not one believes relations with the EU are the direst since the Cold War. Read more

Claire Jones

January’s eurozone inflation number, out earlier on Monday, showed price pressures in the currency bloc are not quite as subdued as first feared, registering 0.8 per cent – a touch higher than Eurostat’s initial estimate of 0.7 per cent.

It’s hardly a game changer: inflation is still less than half the 2 per cent target. But the slightly better figure will reduce pressure on the European Central Bank a little after it faced renewed calls to ease policy following the release of the flash estimate.

However, the detail of this morning’s release suggest disinflationary pressures might be even worse than feared. This excellent chart from Marchel Alexandrovich of Jefferies International shows why: Read more

How will sovereign bonds will be handled in the euro area’s forthcoming banking health checks? This is a vexed question and markets seize ravenously upon any clues.

Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank’s president, offered a flicker of information on Tuesday in a letter to Sharon Bowles, the chair of the European Parliament’s Economic and Monetary Affairs committee. Sovereign exposures will indeed bit included in the stress test, he said – confirming previous declarations from the ECB.

However, it is “not foreseen” that bonds in the held-to-maturity category of banks’ books will be adjusted to reflect market valuations – otherwise known as marked to market. That will come as a relief to banks that are holding portfolios that have slumped in value, but analysts caution that it is far too soon for lenders to relax. Read more

Michael Steen


It’s the first day of August, traditionally the month many Europeans go on holiday, and there was a definite end-of-term feeling to the European Central Bank’s monthly press conference.

The bank unsurprisingly decided to keep its interest rates on hold and Mario Draghi, president, described data that “tentatively confirm the expectation of a stabilisation in economic activity as low levels”. So they see improvement, but they’re not calling the recovery just yet.

What else did we learn? Read more

Hello and welcome to our live blog on the European Central Bank’s press conference. The central bank did what markets expected and kept rates on hold. But ECB president Mario Draghi might offer some clues on what’s to come from the central bank in the months ahead and investors will also be looking for any comments on whether the ECB might start publishing the minutes from its governing council meetings. Draghi is due to begin speaking at 13.30 UK time.

By Claire Jones and Lindsay Whipp

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Michael Steen

Mario Draghi, the European Central Bank president, pulled off the feat of sounding incredibly doveish today while keeping rates on hold and actually making sure his room for manoeuvre remains as wide as possible. Here are five quick takeaways from the press conference following this month’s meeting: Read more

Hello and welcome to the FT’s live blog on the European Central Bank’s rate decision and press conference. All eyes on Thursday are on the ECB and what it has left in its tool kit as gloomy data throws further doubt on the recession-bound eurozone economy.

Many economists are expecting what would largely be a symbolic cut in interest rates. The governing council’s vote is due at 12.45 (BST) and ECB President Mario Draghi will meet the press at half past one.

By Claire Jones and Lindsay Whipp. All times are UK time.


Claire Jones

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Image by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images.

Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank. Image by DANIEL ROLAND/AFP/Getty Images.

Hello and welcome to today’s live blog for European Central Bank president Mario Draghi’s first press conference of 2013.

Mr Draghi will begin speaking at 13.30. All times are UK time.



14.40 The live blog is now closed.

14.38 The ECB president struck a very upbeat tone at today’s presser.

Mr Draghi is clearly delighted with the recent developments in financial markets (see 13.46), though he warned against complacency on the part of governments and added that we were yet to see any signs of an economic recovery.

Because markets were a lot more positive, the governing council was unanimous in deciding to hold rates and no-one even bothered to discuss the option of a cut, which now looks unlikely to happen in the coming months.

14.30 The questions end. Recap to follow.

14.28 Contagion is now working in the eurozone’s favour. “There is a positive contagion when things go well and that’s what’s in play now,” he says.

Despite the recent progress made, however, Draghi say DON’T relax. Which is all well and good, but it doesn’t make for a decent t-shirt does it?

He urges governments to keep up the good work and continue to implement structural reforms.

 Read more

Claire Jones

Mario Draghi, ECB president. Image by Getty.

Mario Draghi, ECB president. Image by Getty.

Hello and welcome to today’s live blog on the European Central Bank’s press conference, which follows today’s governing council vote.

ECB president Mario Draghi will meet the press at half 1.

All times are UK time.


14.30 And that’s it for the final ECB presser of 2012.

The most important developments were the suggestions that a rate cut had been discussed (and that some members of the governing council had supported it at the December vote) and the “growth” downgrades.

14.26 The ECB president says its “pointless” talking about eurobonds now. Why so? Because it would be pointless to talk about mutualising risk before you have put in place rules that limit fiscal discretion. Eurozone members have to rebuild trust first. “It will become realistic when trust is re-established,” he says. Read more

Welcome to a live blog of Mario Draghi’s press conference from ECB HQ in Frankfurt. With rates held and Mr Draghi already having worried investors with his remarks on Wednesday about a slowing German economy, attention will be on what more the bank’s president has to say about the main driver of Eurozone growth. Brought to you by Ben Fenton and Ben Hall.


14.47: That’s it for this live blog, but….

…the last word goes to the FT’s Frankfurt bureau chief Michael Steen (well it is his city and his newspaper). His view of the most interesting line from the Draghi press conference:

“Pressed on ways ECB might ease Greek funding problems, Draghi said the bank already agreed to send back any profits it made from Greek bond holdings to the central bank in Athens which could then be transferred to government. The ECB was “by and large done” helping Greece within its mandate he said.”

14.45: Here is an instant reaction from Howard Archer, chief UK & European economist at IHS Global Insight:

ECB President Mario Draghi appeared to ease open the door to a cut in interest rates over the coming months and potentially as soon as December. Potentially significantly when asked whether the ECB had discussed an interest rate cut at their November meeting, Mr. Draghi commented that “we always discuss all instruments.” This contrasted to his comments after both the September and the ECB meetings, when Mr. Draghi said that the ECB had not discussed cutting interest rates. Mr. Draghi also commented that the ECB stands ready to act on standard monetary policy as well as on non-standard policy. Interestingly, though Mr. Draghi indicated that the ECB had not discussed negative deposit rates (they were cut to zero in August).

Furthermore, Mr. Draghi acknowledged that the Eurozone growth situation and outlook had weakened recently, and hinted that the ECB’s GDP growth staff projections would be revised down in their December forecasts. The ECB’s statement observed that “most recent survey evidence for the economy as a whole, extending into the fourth quarter, does not signal improvements towards the end of the year.” Furthermore, the ECB considered that “growth momentum is expected to remain weak” in 2013, largely due to the need of balance sheet adjustments in both the financial and non-financial sectors, an uneven global recovery and high uncertainty. Mr. Draghi has also expressed concern recently over very high and rising Eurozone unemployment. Reinforcing this downbeat assessment of Eurozone growth prospects, the ECB statement observed that “the risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area remain on the downside.”

Meanwhile, the ECB’s view on inflation does not appear to preclude an interest rate cut in the near term. While the ECB expects Eurozone consumer price inflation to remain above 2.0% and at elevated levels for the remainder of 2012, the bank sees inflation “declining to below 2.0% again in the course of next year”. The ECB regards long-term inflation expectations as “well-anchored” and believes that underlying price pressures should remain moderate, with the result that current levels of inflation should be “transitory”.

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Claire Jones

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BoJ easing

The Bank of Japan looks set to ease policy next Tuesday, with most expecting a ¥10trn expansion of its quantitative easing programme, which will take the size of the programme to ¥90trn. Read more

Claire Jones

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The Federal Open Market Committee meets on Tuesday to set monetary policy for the coming month and a half. The committee votes on Wednesday afternoon. Here’s the FT’s US economics editor Robin Harding on what to expect: Read more

Michael Steen

According to the Maradona theory of monetary policy, as outlined by Sir Mervyn King, governor of the Bank of England, a central bank can let expectations that it will act – rather than actual action – do the work for it.

The theory is being tested right now by Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, as his controversial “outright monetary transactions” bond-buying programme is forced to sit on the benches until the prime candidate for help, Spain, applies to the EU’s bailout fund.

As a quick reminder, the Maradona theory refers to the 1986 World Cup quarter final between England and Argentina. Diego Maradona scored a celebrated goal with a run from near the halfway line in which he beat five England players by, er, running in a straight line. Read more

When David Marsh wrote his definitive biography of the Bundesbank in 1993, he chose the following sub title: “The Bank That Rules Europe“. Feared and revered in equal measure, the Bundesbank was the model on which the ECB was built. Imitation was not, however, the sincerest form of flattery for Germany’s central bank. The arrival of the ECB removed most of its direct authority over monetary policy, leaving it with only one out of 23 votes on the governing council of the new central bank.

Recently, the Bundesbank’s President Jens Weidmann has been in a minority of one on the question of whether to launch the ECB’s new programme of Outright Monetary Transactions, to which he is fundamentally opposed. He views the proposed purchases of government debt in the troubled eurozone economies as a thinly disguised monetary bail-out of profligate governments, something which the Bundesbank had believed from the very beginning to be outside the intention of the treaties.

 Read more

Claire Jones

Mario Draghi. Image by Getty.

Mario Draghi. Image by Getty.

Hello and welcome to our live blog on the European Central Bank’s press conference, which follows the governing council’s vote earlier today.

Today’s presser is held in Kranj, Slovenia. ECB president Mario Draghi will be flanked by Vitor Constâncio, ECB president, and Marko Kranjec, governor of the Slovenian central bank.

All times are London time.

14.26 And that’s that from Kranj. The ECB president painted a gloomy picture of the economic outlook, but there was little indication of what the central bank would do if conditions worsened.

14.25 Time for one more question. This one on the possibility of a conflict of interest between supervising banks and monetary policy. “We have to make sure that we have an organisation that ensures separation between monetary policy decisions and banking supervision,” Mr Draghi says.

14.20 Mr Draghi reiterates for the umpteenth time that the ball is now very much in the court of governments: “The ECB is there to make an environment that is conducive to reforms, but the decision is with governments,” he says.

14.15 Marko Kranjec, governor of Slovenia’s central bank, says the country’s borrowing costs “don’t reflect fundamentals.” The governor says he expects them to fall in the months ahead. A related question from Peter Spiegel:

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Any takers? Read more

Claire Jones

Our week ahead email helps you to track the most important events in central banking. To see all of our emails and alerts visit

ECB vote

The European Central Bank’s governing council decamps to Ljubljana next week for its October policy vote. This from the FT’s Frankfurt bureau chief Michael Steen on what to expect: Read more

Claire Jones

Our week ahead email helps you to track the most important events in central banking. To see all of our emails and alerts visit

More QE from the Bank?

The Bank of England‘s Monetary Policy Committee meets on Wednesday and Thursday, when the decision is due out at noon UK time (11am GMT).

Will the MPC vote for more QE? Read more

Claire Jones

Our week ahead email helps you to track the most important events in central banking. To see all of our emails and alerts visit

FOMC/ BoJ votes

The big events next week are the Federal Open Market Committee and Bank of Japan policy votes.

The FOMC decision, due out Wednesday afternoon DC time, is not expected to see further quantitative easing announced. However, the FT’s Gavyn Davies says this does not necessarily mean we’ve seen the last of QE from the Fed: Read more

Ralph Atkins

Mario Draghi on Thursday faces perhaps his biggest political challenge since he become European Central Bank president in November.

Last week, a leaked letter from Jens Weidmann, Bundesbank president, highlighted rising anxiety at Germany’s central bank over the risks entailed in the ECB’s extraordinary actions to support the eurozone banking system, which have seen it inject more than €1trn in three-year liquidity in recent months.

How Mr Draghi responds to the confrontation at his press conference after Thursday’s governing council meeting could determine the extent to which his stewardship of the eurozone crisis is undermined by Bundesbank resistance.

The dispute could well dominate Thursday’s proceedings: with the ECB still waiting to see the impact of its liquidity measures on the real economy, no change is expected in interest rates. The suspense over Greece’s bail-out is unlikely to have cleared.

Mr Weidmann’s letter created considerable irritation and bewilderment among other members of the ECB’s 23-strong governing council. Read more