Il Primo Ministro greco Lucas Papademos riceve l'approvazione del governo su tagli al bilancio che corrispondono al 7% del Pil nei prossimi tre anni e su una ristrutturazione finalizzata a ridurre di €100 mld gli oltre €200 mld di debito detenuto dai creditori privati, atteso il voto del parlamento • Standard & Poor's declassa il merito creditizio di 34 banche italiane tra cui UniCredit a BBB+ da A, Intesa Sanpaolo a BBB+ da A e Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena a BBB da BBB+, S&P anticipa "una redditività decisamente debole per le banche italiane nei prossimi anni" • La produzione industriale italiana aumenta a dicembre +1,4% da novembre +0,3%, oltre le stime degli economisti +0,5%, anche se i dati del quarto trimestre -2,1% suggeriscono che la terza economia della zona euro è entrata nella seconda recessione dal 2009 • I Btp decennali salgono per la quinta settimana consecutiva, il periodo di recupero più lungo in oltre cinque anni, la prossima settimana il Tesoro vende €4 mld di buoni al 6% con scadenza 2014 • L'euro cala dal massimo di due mesi contro il dollaro, il mercato azionario europeo cala dal massimo di sei settimane e l'azionario Usa registra la prima settimana di perdite del 2012 dopo che i ministri delle finanze europee non hanno concesso il pacchetto di aiuto necessario a prevenire il collasso economico della Grecia

giovedì 2 ottobre 2014

European Central Bank President Draghi News Conference (Text)

Following is a transcript of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi’s comments from his monthly news conference in Naples, Italy today.

DRAGHI: Ladies and gentlemen, the vice president and I are very pleased to welcome you to our press conference. I would like to thank Governor Visco for his kind hospitality and express our special gratitude to his staff for the excellent organization of today’s meeting of the Governing Council. We will now report on the outcome of our meeting.


Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, and in line with our forward guidance, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. Following up on the decisions of 4 September 2014, we also decided on the key operational details of both the asset-backed securities purchase program and the new covered bond purchase program.

This will allow us to start purchasing covered bonds in mid-October and asset-backed securities in the fourth quarter of 2014. The programs will last for at least two years. Together with a series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations -- otherwise called TLTROs -- to be conducted until June 2016, these purchases will have a sizeable impact on our balance sheet.

The new measures will support specific market segments that play a key role in the financing of the economy. They will thereby further enhance the functioning of the monetary policy transmission mechanism, facilitate credit provision to the broad economy, and generate positive spillovers to other markets.

Taking into account the overall subdued outlook for inflation, the weakening in the euro area’s growth momentum over the recent past and the continued subdued monetary and credit dynamics, our asset purchases should ease the monetary policy stance more broadly. They should also strengthen our forward guidance on the key ECB interest rates and reinforce the fact that there are significant and increasing differences in the monetary policy cycle between major advanced economies.

Together with the monetary accommodation already in place, the determined implementation of the new measures will underpin the firm anchoring of medium- to long-term inflation expectations, in line with our aim of maintaining inflation rates below, but close to, 2 percent.

As all our measures work their way through to the economy, they will contribute to a return of inflation rates to levels closer to our aim. Should it become necessary to further address risks of too prolonged a period of low inflation, the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments within its mandate.

A separate press release will provide further information on the modalities of our new purchase programs for ABS’s and covered bonds. And it will be released at 3:30.

Let me now explain our assessment in greater detail, starting with the economic analysis. Following four quarters of moderate expansion, euro area real GDP remained unchanged between the first and second quarter of this year. Survey data available up to September confirm the weakening in the euro area’s growth momentum, while remaining consistent with a modest economic expansion in the second half of the year.

Looking ahead to 2015, the outlook for a moderate recovery in the euro area remains in place, but the main factors and assumptions shaping this assessment need to be monitored closely. Domestic demand should be supported by our monetary policy measures, the ongoing improvements in financial conditions, the progress made in fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, and lower energy prices supporting real disposable income. Furthermore, demand for exports should benefit from the global recovery.

At the same time, the recovery is likely to continue to be dampened by high unemployment, sizeable unutilized capacity, continued negative bank loan growth to the private sector, and the necessary balance sheet adjustments in the public and private sectors.

The risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area remain on the downside. In particular, the recent weakening in the euro area’s growth momentum, alongside heightened geopolitical risks, could dampen confidence and, in particular, private investment. In addition, insufficient progress in structural reforms in euro area countries constitutes a key downward risk to the economic outlook.

According to Eurostat’s flash estimate, euro area annual HICP inflation was 0.3 percent in September 2014, after 0.4 percent in August. Compared with the previous month, this reflects a stronger decline in energy prices and somewhat lower price increases in most other components of the HICP. On the basis of current information, annual HICP inflation is expected to remain at low levels over the coming months, before increasing gradually during 2015 and 2016.

The Governing Council will continue to closely monitor the risks to the outlook for price developments over the medium term. In this context, we will focus in particular on the possible repercussions of dampened growth dynamics, geopolitical developments, exchange rate developments, and the pass-through of our monetary policy measures.

Turning to the monetary analysis, data for August 2014 continue to point to subdued underlying growth in broad money, with the annual growth rate increasing moderately to 2.0 percent in August, after 1.8 percent in July. Annual growth in M3 continues to be supported by its most liquid components, with the narrow monetary aggregate M1 growing at an annual rate of 5.8 percent in August.

The annual rate of change of loans to non-financial corporations remained negative at minus 2.0 percent in August, after minus 2.2 percent in the previous month. On average over recent months, net redemptions have moderated from the historically high levels recorded a year ago.

Lending to non-financial corporations continues to reflect the lagged relationship with the business cycle, credit risk, credit supply factors, and the ongoing adjustment of financial and non-financial sector balance sheets. The annual growth rate of loans to households was 0.5 percent in August, broadly unchanged since the beginning of 2013.

Against the background of weak credit growth, the ECB is now close to finalizing the comprehensive assessment of banks’ balance sheets, which is of key importance to overcome credit supply constraints.

To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the signals coming from the monetary analysis confirms the recent decisions taken by the Governing Council to provide further monetary policy accommodation and to support lending to the real economy.

Monetary policy is focused on maintaining price stability over the medium term, and its accommodative stance contributes to supporting economic activity. However, in order to strengthen investment activity, job creation, and potential growth, other policy areas need to contribute decisively.

In particular, the legislation and implementation of structural reforms clearly need to gain momentum in several countries. This applies to product and labor markets, as well as to actions to improve the business environment for firms. As regards fiscal policies, euro area countries should not unravel the progress already made and should proceed in line with the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact.

This should be reflected in the draft budgetary plans for 2015 that governments will now deliver, in which they will address the relevant country-specific recommendations. The pact should remain the anchor for confidence in sustainable public finances, and the existing flexibility within the rules should allow governments to address the budgetary costs of major structural reforms, to support demand and to achieve a more growth-friendly composition of fiscal policies.

A full and consistent implementation of the euro area’s existing fiscal and macroeconomic surveillance framework is key to bringing down high public debt ratios, to raising potential growth, and to increasing the euro area’s resilience to shocks.

And we are now at your disposal for questions.

STAFF: (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I have a first -- my first question would be if you could give us some more details on the ABS purchase program. What will be the size? How (OFF-MIKE) if the size of the purchase program will be changing over time? And also, what about the rating of the ABS (OFF-MIKE) specifically about those from Greece and Cyprus?

And my second question will be on the exchange rate. The euro is depreciating recently (OFF-MIKE) and how do you evaluate depreciation and if you think this is a consequence of the ECB policy. Thank you.

DRAGHI: Thank you. Well, first of all, a large -- I mean, all the details -- almost all the details of the program will come out in the press release at 3:30, the specific ones.

Let me say that the -- it’s hard to give -- to assess a figure, to give a figure at this program as such, but there are several interactions between the ABS program, the covered bond program, and the TLTRO program. So the overall impact of these three measures will be -- on our balance sheet size will be significant. And our balance sheet is expected, as I think I said in European Parliament, to -- is expected to be stirred towards the dimension, the size it had at the beginning of 2012.

The -- on the ratings, again, the details will be in the press communique, but basically -- basically, the -- we’ve been accepting ABS in our collateral for 10 years. So it was quite natural to have as much similarity as possible with our collateral rules when we come to risk assessment. And that’s what’s happened, basically, with a few adjustments that are inspired by simple considerations.

First of all, when we talk about an outright purchase, it’s kind of different than just lending against collateral on -- which is with you -- which is with you on a temporary basis.

The second thing is that this program is -- like the TLTROs is oriented to boost lending to SMEs. And that’s why the ABS that we are focusing on are ABS that are meant to be simple and transparent, namely that the content of these ABS’s ought to be loans and similar lending that it’s easy to read and price and interpret. While in our collateral rules we are accepting also structured ABS, we will not -- we will not orient our purchase program toward that sort of ABS, because it would not be in sync with our objective to boost lending to the real economy.

Third point is that we want to be as inclusive as possible, so -- as inclusive as possible, but with prudence, so that we have decided to include countries that have a rating below BBB-minus and, like Greece and Cyprus, applying certain derogation, with two caveats. The first is that there is a series of measures that mitigate risk for the specific purchases to happen there, that are to happen there, so that the assets both there would be risk-equivalent to assets both elsewhere.

So, for example, size-wise, type-wise, and then there is a second -- a second I would say caveat or prudence, which is basically that the countries ought to have an ongoing program with the E.U. I think I gave you the broad lines of what we’ve decided, really. Then the rest will be clearer in the press communique.

On the exchange rate -- you know, on the exchange rate, I’ve said several times it’s not a policy target for us. It’s not a policy target. And as far as the exchange rate communication is concerned, we’ll basically comply and attain to the agreed terms of reference in the G-20 communique on this issue.

It’s -- again, I did say this on other occasions -- it’s, however, important for price stability and it’s important for growth. And to a great extent, the behavior we’ve seen is the outcome of the different economic situations, the different -- the difference in our business cycle between us and the rest -- or most of the other jurisdictions, which in turn induce a difference and a diverging path in our monetary policies.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) expectations has gone again down below 2 percent to 5-year on 5-year (OFF-MIKE) do you regard inflationary expectations to be anchored at this stage?

DRAGHI: Sorry. What’s the question?

QUESTION: If you regard inflationary expectations still anchored as they’ve gone down below 2 percent again after briefly going up (OFF-MIKE) and the other question is, given that your -- the measures you’re proposing or the details of the measures you’re proposing can only have an impact over a considerable period of time, if you’re considering measures of more immediate impact, such as the purchase of public sector or government bonds, and, indeed, any board members proposed that or suggest that at today’s meeting.

DRAGHI: Well, first of all, the inflation expectations -- first of all, we don’t use -- let me get this clear, because there has been a certain amount of misunderstanding in the last few weeks -- we don’t use one single measure of inflation expectations. We use a broad range of indicators.

And our inflation expectations measures have gone down especially on the short horizons and are now around 8 points below 2 percent on the five-year on five-year, and so we look at that with -- definitely with great attention. I would say that the measures we’ve taken have been determined exactly because our medium-term outlook on inflation expectation has worsened and we see that the risks have increased.

So we think that -- and we said this many times -- we think that we have a prolonged period of too-low inflation is harmful for the economy, and that’s why the actions we’ve taken since June onward are exactly meant to underpin our inflation expectations at 2 percent in the medium term.

The other question was about the -- yeah, yeah. There is no -- there is no doubt that these measures, like TLTROs and the ABS and the covered bond program will unfold over a certain horizon. And we did a lot of things since June. I mean, we did a lot of unprecedented things now that you think, well -- we lowered interest rates and we went negative on the deposit -- on the rate on the deposit facility. We launched this ABS program, which was -- it’s another unprecedented measure. We launched the third covered bond program with ambitions and objectives way higher than the first and the second covered bond program. We launched the TLTROs, again, unprecedented in its shape. So let’s see.

But, thirdly, having said that, I just said how closely we are watching inflation and inflation expectations in the medium term, and I can only reiterate that the Governing Council stance is unanimous in its commitment to use other unconventional instruments if it were to judge that the risks of too-low inflation for too prolonged a time were to deteriorate. Thank you.

QUESTION: Yes, I have one question on ECB balance sheet and one question on -- on the instruments still at your disposal. On the ECB balance sheet, you’ve said several times that you want to restore it to -- around the level it was in the -- at the beginning of 2012. If you could give markets slightly more precise guidance on that, because in the first quarter of 2012, I believe, it oscillated between 2.5 trillion euros and 3.0 trillion euros. Are we looking at the higher end of that or the lower end of that? That’s one question.

And, secondly, you said yesterday that monetary policy can only do so much in terms of reviving growth and confidence in the Eurozone. And you stressed in your introductory statement again today the importance of structural reforms that you have done in the past and also a respect for European budget rules. Does this mean that you’re running out of instruments or that you won’t do more until the governments do more?

DRAGHI: On the first question, I mean, I understand your desire to have very precise figures for everything. That makes life perhaps easier. But I have to say that I wouldn’t want to emphasize the balance sheet size, per se. That’s very important, but it’s only an instrument. The ultimate and the only mandate that we have to comply is to bring inflation back to level that it’s close, but below 2 percent. I think that’s the ultimate yardstick by which we will measure the success of the present measures and any other measures that we may take in the future.

On the second point, the question is actually quite topical, I think. It’s because there is no great bargain here. “We do this if you do that.” We know that our measures are going to be more effective or sometimes are effective only if other policies will be in place, policies -- and I’ve mentioned several times, policies on the demand side, because the more we are in this situation, the more we see that the cyclical component in our business cycle is important, and it’s not only structural -- it is true that to a great extent, our problems are structural and that’s why we need a second other policy, which is the one of structural reforms. So demand policies and structural reforms, we know that.

But we also know that we want to comply with our mandate. So there is no bargain here. Each actor has its role to perform. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President and Governor Visco, as well, I have a question regarding, yeah, the package of measures that have been launched by the ECB in June that now are taking place. First of all, just the impression that such measures are predominantly addressing the supply side, and that in some way the demand is still suffering. In other words, I mean, for instance, why should companies borrow more in countries such as Italy when they do not see such a significant improvement in demand and in growth? So isn’t there a risk that the ECB is actually pushing on a string? Thank you very much.

DRAGHI: Well, certainly that’s what a central bank can do, and that’s what we are doing, namely improving the funding conditions for the main intermediation channel we have in this part of the world, namely, the bank lending channel. As you know, it intermediates about 80 percent of credit flows.

That’s certainly our task, and we’ve been doing a lot -- we’ve done a lot. I mean, you just go back with your memory to the last three years and even four or five years, and it just -- we’ve done really a lot to improve the funding conditions.

And now, of course, we are waiting -- we’ve seen some of it. We’ve seen that some of this is being passed very painfully slowly to the real economy. But certainly, other measures are needed. I made several times example of if someone is -- young entrepreneur has to wait nine months, 12 months to have the authorizations and the permits to open a new shop, and then by the time he gets these authorizations, he’s been overburdened by taxation of different kinds, you wouldn’t expect him to apply for credit, and that’s where the example tells that we need structural reforms, as well.

And, finally, on the demand side, our rules are pretty clear. Countries that don’t have fiscal space can still have fiscal space within the existing rules, and we can dwell on that later on. They can also enforce what we’ve called growth-friendly fiscal consolidation based on cuts in expenditures, cuts in taxes, increase in capital expenditures, and so on.

And countries that do have fiscal space should use the fiscal space they have. So I think these three-pronged program without implying any -- as I said a minute ago, any bargains, any great bargains should be in place.

QUESTION: I just wanted to, first of all, press you a little bit more on this question on the exchange rate. You have commented before about the fundamentals for a weaker exchange rate being -- changing compared to previous months or weeks. You do say in the opening statement that the -- that your policy should reinforce the fact that there are significant and increasing differences in monetary policy. Doesn’t it stand to reason that these fundamentals for a weaker exchange rate are still valid in your opinion, despite even in light of the recent weakening that we’ve seen?

And my second question is just maybe a bigger picture one on low inflation. With a lot of people in Europe, families in Europe struggling, how can you tell them that -- or explain to them that paying more at the gas station or the grocery store or the clothing store is ultimately in their interests, that higher inflation is good for them? Thank you.

DRAGHI: Yeah, let me respond to your first question. I mean, you’re trying to kind of extort from me a level of the exchange rate, and unfortunately, I’m not in a position to accommodate your question there. We simply -- as I said, the exchange rate is not a policy target, so we don’t have a target other than we’ll watch what happens in the market as a result of our monetary policy decisions, which are taken with the primary and exclusive view of re-establishing price stability, bringing the inflation rate close, but below to 2 percent.

The second point is a good question. I think we clearly -- by the way, we had a recent drop in oil prices by largely -- 6 percent at least in dollar prices. And that, on the one hand, should support real incomes. At the same time, we’re having a very -- very significant slack in the labor market, which shows some marginal signs of stabilization, but from a level of slack, which is still very, very significant.

We have wide margins of unutilized capacity, and so on, so the economy is still fundamentally weak. I’ve said many times our recovery is weak, fragile, uneven, and still is. So the hope is that when we see some price -- I would say some price pressure, some price power back in the economy, at the same time, we’d like to see also some strengthening in the economy. That would be the objective.

And in a sense, the first is -- should ideally be the outcome of the second. And on this is partly predicated our conviction that in the medium term inflation will go back to 2 percent, as the economy will strengthen.

QUESTION: About the TLTROs, Mr. President and Governor Visco, can TLTRO be used to allow firms to anticipate part of (OFF-MIKE) to employees?

DRAGHI: Is this the only question? OK, that’s for Governor Visco.

(LAUGHTER)

VISCO: Yes, very nice.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

VISCO: Thank you. Well, TLTRO has a clear objective, to increase lending to small and medium enterprises. If that opens the way for small and medium enterprises to do more lending, then obviously there is nothing against that. But in any case, banks are free to do what they like, what I think is more important for them and also for the economies that they serve, and TLTROs are there to be judged against the increase of lending vis-a-vis the reference path (ph). That’s it. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. President, I have two questions, one on your answer on -- that also countries who are -- who do have an ongoing program that the E.U. are eligible for ABS purchases. So what about Greece? It’s formally ending at the end of 2014, the E.U., but it’s ongoing with the IMF. Is that also eligible? Or (OFF-MIKE) another program?

And the second question would be on -- what are you making of the recent event or rise of euro-skepticism in the Eurozone’s biggest economy, Germany? It seems that it’s sort of an equation. The more you venture into unconventional territory, the more euro-skepticism is on the rise in Germany.

DRAGHI: Yeah, thank you. Well, let me just add one comma to what Governor Visco has just said. The TLTROs are exactly devised to make sure that banks lend what they borrow from the ECB. If they don’t lend, they will have to repay everything. So that’s important to remember, because that’s what makes these things different from the previous operations.

On Greece, yes, there is -- must be a program there. And the specific shape of the program you’ll see in the press release attached, but there must be a program, there must be -- and if no program, no purchases.

I’m sorry?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DRAGHI: Well, that’s what you find in the press communique, which comes out at 3:30, the precise definition of what we mean by that. On a euro-skepticism, it’s -- you know, it’s very understandable that people are euro-skeptical, because things are not going well in opposite directions. In this part of the world, things are not going well, because you have pervasive unemployment and you have very low, weak economic activity with -- and in some countries, with a recession that seems to never end. So you can’t expect people being enthusiastic about that.

In the other part of Europe, you have this, because they feel like they -- people are paying for everybody else. And so that’s also a reason for not being happy.

Having said that, I don’t think that the euro is a solution to the problems. The countries that need to do structural reforms will have to do anyway, will have to do it anyway, whether they are in the euro or outside the euro. The countries that need to consolidate their public finances will have to do it anyway.

And one could even argue that some -- some forms of fiscal consolidation, some forms of structural reforms will even be more difficult and more costly outside. Now, this being a counterfactual, I wouldn’t -- I wouldn’t (OFF-MIKE) too much on that.

So this idea is understandable, but I don’t think it’s right. And I will only repeat: The euro is irreversible. Thank you.

QUESTION: Mr. Draghi, I would like to go back to the balance sheet. So the early 2012 level, is that -- is that merely an expectation of the effect of current measures? Or is it more of a target so that you -- should banks show very limited interest in the second TLTRO, might actually go ahead and purchase assets more aggressively than you’re planning currently?

And my second question relates to that more of a target or even just -- a rough aim. By what time would you like to get there and for how long would you like to maintain that level? Thank you very much.

DRAGHI: Thank you. Again, I mean, what I can say is that we’ve decided a massive amount of measures now. We haven’t seen yet their impact in the economy. So we expect these measures to stir our balance sheet towards that time, but don’t forget the ultimate test is the expectation of inflation expectations. And that we are going to gear our action according to how the medium-term outlook of our inflation expectations will develop in the coming months, not coming years, coming months.

So we do expect that our measures will have a sizable impact. That’s quite understandable that we expect that. And what was the second question?

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE)

DRAGHI: Well, I mean, as I said, the answer to the first is also the answer to the second. We simply have to look at our medium-term inflation expectations outlook, and then we will decide, and we’ll have to see what impact these measures are having. So -- well, and we have to see exactly -- I’ve said that -- said one more thing.

The potential universe that these two programs will address the covered bond programs purchase and the -- and the asset -- the ABS purchase program, potential universe is up to $1 trillion. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we will go into that amount. It will mean that that’s the potential universe to which our purchases will be addressed.

On top of this, we’ll be having the impact of the TLTROs. So I think the groundwork for having a sizable impact is there. We do expect this to have an impact on our ultimate yardstick, which is the inflation expectation in the medium term, and having said that, I will reiterate, saying that the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to use other unconventional instruments. You see, this sentence is repeated, introductory statement after introductory statement each and every time.

This means that in spite of the measures that we’ve just taken between June and September, the Governing Council still stands ready to undertake other measures, if needed.

QUESTION: President Draghi, please, yesterday, France had decided not to respect the deficit limit. And rightly this morning, the Italian prime minister said -- defended their choice. And they actually added that nobody could treat the partner as pupil. So what is going on? What’s your opinion? I mean, does it change the situation in the European economic -- monetary system? What’s your opinion on that? Thank you.

DRAGHI: Thank you. Well, first, let me say that the euro area member states -- I’m pretty sure euro area member states, the commission, the ECB, all of us have an enormous interest in having France returning to growth and lowering unemployment. This is -- this is -- we should start from this point.

Second point is that we do trust the government to take the -- all the necessary actions on the structural reform ground, starting with a forceful implementation of the responsibility pact, but also with a forceful implementation of other reforms.

You know, here I had the chance to say in -- not long ago, in an interview in France -- with a French channel that these reforms have been started and designed for a long time. Now it’s implementation time. And that’s where the focus should be.

On the specific fiscal issues, let me read, the policy guidance that the European Council -- you know the European Council is formed by all our leaders, so including the French leaders, the policy guidance that the European Council adopted in July by recommending to France to, first, reinforce the budgetary strategy for the year 2014 and beyond, second, achieving the structural adjustment efforts specified in the council recommendation under the excessive deficit procedure, and, third, ensure the correction of the excessive deficit in a sustainable manner by 2015.

Now, having said that, we will have a full discussion of this, the first full discussion of this when the French government will present the draft budget in October, I think in a couple of weeks or in a week time, and then we will have this discussion in November, early November. So it’s too early to elaborate any further.

QUESTION: Mr. President, for my first question, how concerned is the ECB about the recent fall in core inflation and also reports from the manufacturing PMI yesterday that businesses are cutting prices across the region? Secondly, there’s been some protests on the streets of Naples today. I was wondering if you have any message at all for the protests, which seem to be centered around complaints over European institutions and austerity.

DRAGHI: Well, you’re right to point out, as a meaningful figure that’s just come out, the fall in core inflation -- because as matter of fact, we’ve observed certainly a drop -- a quite significant drop in energy prices, but also in other -- several other components of the HICP. So that’s certainly something that we are looking and, as I think I read in the (OFF-MIKE) statement, we are closely monitoring these developments.

The -- but there’s one thing to say, basically, that for quite a prolonged period of time, the drop in oil and, more generally, energy prices and the drop in food prices was the greatest explanation, the most significant explanation for the low inflation. Then, once the dollar prices of these two categories pretty much stabilized, it was the strong appreciation of the exchange rate which continued to have an impact on low inflation.

More recently, we see that the forecast error that’s been made in forecasting inflation cannot be attributed only to the assumptions on oil prices, food prices, and the exchange rate, but there is also another component, which certainly contains unemployment, certainly contains the weak level of aggregate demand, and basically says that the longer we stay in a low inflation situation, the more the cyclical component gains importance and contributes to inflation. I think this is one way we look at this new data about -- and so it produces falling prices in components other than energy and food.

The second question is, well, it’s -- while I think -- I think we have an understanding for the reasons that are behind these -- these protests, and we understand the reasons and -- and, frankly, have to do with what I said before, namely the weak situation of this -- of this country, the weak economy, and so on.

But what I find -- what I find in need to be corrected is the perception that the ECB is somehow at the origin of -- is guilty and is at the origin of this situation. I mean, it’s simply -- what is needed is to go back and ask yourself, how -- how were you two-and-a-half years ago, three years ago? What was the situation?

The financial system seemed to be on the verge of collapsing. Interest rates were several hundred basis points higher than they are today. The ECB has injected -- well, first of all, has lowered interest rates so much that now we are close to zero and we can’t go down any longer. And as I said, no other great central bank is now having banks paying for depositing money with the central bank.

Second, we have injected unprecedented amounts of liquidity in the system. Third, we just approved now another series of measures. Fourth, we have successfully fought crisis of systemic proportions in 2012, which actually led to lowering all the interest rates on various components.

So the -- I find this -- the description of the ECB as the guilty actor here and need to be corrected. And that’s -- thank you. You want to add anything?

VISCO: (OFF-MIKE) this is still exactly what I think. These protests cannot be against monetary policy. Monetary policy has clearly as easy as possible and will continue to be until the objectives are reached. But it’s against a state of the economy which has a number of causes. To identify the causes is complicated. To identify the answers is complicated.

And usually, this is a response that identifies the central bank with the banks, and it needs to be corrected. It (OFF-MIKE) the ECB monetary policy with the decisions of the troika, but the troika does not make decisions. Troika somehow is surveyor of decisions taken by the government.

So it is an issue of politics. It’s not an issue of monetary policy.

QUESTION: Yes. Yesterday night, Mr. Visco said that the choice of Naples represents a way to remind us that (OFF-MIKE) melting pot of different historical experiences. So is Europe. Does monetary policy today take into account the (OFF-MIKE) of European economies? And how? And I’d like to address the same question to Mr. Draghi as to Mr. Visco.

DRAGHI: Please.

VISCO: Well, first of all, Naples was chosen as the third country where the ECB Governing Council meets. One was in the north (OFF-MIKE) the other was in the (OFF-MIKE) Rome. The third is Naples. These are three very important cities in the history of Europe, not only in the history of Italy.

Then the questions -- substantial questions is when one takes monetary policy decisions, does it imply that a particular situation is considered or not? There are two answers. The first, all situations are considered. The second, we take decisions looking at the area as a whole.

So clearly, it is very important what happens in particular regions for -- as a whole, and we have to take that into consideration, but clearly monetary policy is not selected. It does not address a particular (OFF-MIKE) a particular region or a particular circumstance which really is (OFF-MIKE) than affecting the whole economy of the euro area.

DRAGHI: I have nothing to add.

STAFF: In which case, we’ll take the final question now. And as a tribute to the host country, I would like the president, if possible, to answer in Italian so that the TV stations can also have something in Italian. Could I please ask (OFF-MIKE)

QUESTION: Thank you, President Draghi, for taking a question in Italy. It’s on behalf of Italian TV viewers.

(through translator): What can monetary policy do in order to support real economy?

DRAGHI (through translator): Monetary policy in the last four or five years was very, very active. It supported real economy. It improved the financial conditions of banks, first to make it possible for banks to loan money to real economy, up to 2012 interest rates were far higher than they are today. We brought interest rates down to zero, virtually, and at this point in time, it is necessary for banks to transfer these conditions to companies and entrepreneurs and households.

Therefore, monetary policy can improve conditions for the financing of economy, but other conditions that must exist so that people go to the bank and borrow money. They have to be confident in the future. Confident in the future is a precondition for new investments, new companies, and for borrowing from banks.

The general conditions must change. Less taxes, more reforms, certainty about public finance orientations. And I’m saying this not because I’m thinking of Italy alone. I’ve been -- I’ve been saying these things for the whole of Europe.

The measures we discuss today already impacted the situation. They brought interest rates even lower. They affected the exchange rate market. Therefore, the great uncertainty that affected financial markets in the past has virtually disappeared. But uncertainty disappeared on the financial markets not in the world of real economy, and that’s where we need to make steps forward.

VISCO (through translator): I repeat what I said earlier in English. Our monetary policies accompanied the growth of (OFF-MIKE) but it also helped reduce the constraints on the supply of credit. There are other conditions, however, which should -- which require an overall action, because only in these conditions can you think of investing money. But our monetary policy strongly supported the economy with a reduction of the strong risk which characterized the euro area as a whole and Italy, in particular, linked as it was to the euro and the crisis of sovereign debt of 2011-2013.

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