European Central Bank policy meetings have been fairly subdued of late, with economists left to dissect governor Mario Draghi’s language, tone and demeanour. But this Thursday’s get-together could be different.
First, although surveys indicate that economists overwhelmingly expect the ECB to keep its interest rate on hold at 0.75 per cent again, the odds on the first rate cut have become somewhat shorter than the poll would indicate.
Many economists have long argued that a rate cut is warranted. The recent run of European economic data – most recently dismal PMIs, a new unemployment record and slowing inflation – has already sparked quiet speculation that the central bank could unexpectedly tweak its main policy rate this week.
Yet the main event is likely to be Mr Draghi’s press conference, where he will be quizzed over the eurozone’s recent haphazard rescue of Cyprus.
The ECB’s threat to withhold its “emergency liquidity assistance” from Cypriot banks unless a bailout was agreed helped sharpen minds, but is tough to reconcile with Mr Draghi’s promise to do “whatever it takes” to maintain the eurozone’s cohesion.
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