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Here’s what 12 ECB members said about interest rates this week


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A sculpture of the Euro currency stands in the city centre of Frankfurt am Main, western Germany, on January 25, 2024.

Kirill Kudryavtsev | Afp | Getty Images

A host of economists and monetary policymakers gathered in New York this week for the International Monetary Fund’s Spring Meetings — including numerous decision-makers from the European Central Bank.

CNBC spoke to 12 members of the ECB’s Governing Council at the event to unpack their latest views on the interest rate outlook and inflationary pressures, after euro zone price rises cooled to 2.4% in March.

The ECB opted to hold rates steady in April and next meets to vote on monetary policy on June 6.

Christine Lagarde, president of the ECB

The ECB’s figurehead delivered a firm message that reflected her statements in recent press conferences: markets should expect an interest rate cut soon, barring major surprises.

“We just need to build a bit more confidence in this disinflationary process, but if it moves according to our expectations, if we don’t have a major shock in development, we are heading towards a moment where we have to moderate the restrictive monetary policy,” Lagarde told CNBC’s Sara Eisen.

ECB President Christine Lagarde: EU growth will come from wage increases while inflation falls

François Villeroy de Galhau, governor of the Bank of France

According to Villeroy, the ECB should cut in June so that higher rates do not cause too much damage to the euro area economy, which last year narrowly avoided a recession but fell into stagnation.

Barring a major surprise before the next Governing Council in early June, “we should cut rates because we are now confident enough and increasingly confident about the disinflationary path in the euro area,” Villeroy told CNBC’s Karen Tso.

“There is now a very large consensus that it is time to take this insurance more or less against what I would call the second risk. The first risk is to act too early and to let inflation go upwards again and this would be a danger,” he said. “But the second risk would be to be behind the curve and to pay a too high cost in terms of economic activity and employment.”

Watch CNBC's full interview with Bank of France Governor François Villeroy de Galhau

Joachim Nagel, president of Germany’s Bundesbank

The “probability is increasing” of a June cut, said Nagel. He added that there were caveats, including the risk of higher oil prices.

Core inflation is still high, service inflation is high. For the June meeting we will get our projections, so we will get our new forecasts and if there is a confirmation that inflation is really going down, and we will achieve our target in 2025, as I said, the probability is becoming higher that this rate cut is here for the June meeting,” Nagel explained.

Watch CNBC's full interview with German central bank chief Joachim Nagel

Robert Holzmann, governor of the Austrian Central Bank

One of the Governing Council’s most hawkish members, Holzmann flagged geopolitical tensions as the biggest threat to interest rate cuts this year.

“We have seen what’s happened in the Middle East … we may have a different oil price, and this of course may require us to rethink our strategy,” he said. 

ECB’s Holzmann says biggest threat to strategy is the geopolitical situation in the Middle East

Mario Centeno, governor of the Bank of Portugal

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Here’s what 12 ECB members said about interest rates this week

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