ECB board member Piero Cipollone has stated that the European Central Bank (ECB) does not need to further dampen the euro zone’s economy in order to control inflation. In his first remarks on monetary policy since joining the ECB late last year, Cipollone emphasized that demand in the euro zone is still weak. He maintained a cautious approach similar to his predecessor and fellow Italian, Fabio Panetta.
At an event at the European Parliament, Cipollone noted that demand is still weak and there is no need for monetary policy to further reduce it. He suggested that curbing an already weak economy is unnecessary and that a potential recovery does not need to be accompanied by higher inflation. Cipollone also pointed out that supply shocks could create an opportunity for demand to recover without fueling inflation.
In contrast, Fabio Panetta, now the governor of the Bank of Italy, was notably more direct on Saturday, suggesting that the time to cut rates was “fast approaching.” However, most of the 26 policymakers overseeing euro area policy believe that more evidence is needed, especially regarding wage growth, before making a decision to cut borrowing costs. Investors were initially predicting that the ECB would begin reducing rates as early as March, but they now see a 50% probability of the first rate cut occurring in April, followed by additional reductions that may have the rate on bank deposits lowered to 2.75% – 3.0% by the end of the year from the present 4.0%.