ECB’s hawkish Knot makes dovish sounds on rates long-term

FILE PHOTO: President of Dutch central bank De Nederlandsche Bank Klaas Knot arrives for the Frankfurt Finance Summit in Frankfurt
FILE PHOTO: President of Dutch central bank De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB) Klaas Knot arrives for the Frankfurt Finance Summit in Frankfurt March 19, 2013. REUTERS/Lisi Niesner

March 31, 2019

BERLIN (Reuters) – Dutch central bank Governor Klaas Knot expects the euro zone economy to recover speed in the second half after a sluggish start to the year, but in an interview with Handelsblatt the noted hawk was distinctly dovish on long-term interest rates.

Knot, one of the most prominent hawks on the European Central Bank’s rate-setting committee told the German paper that though he was strongly in favor of normalizing policy after years of anti-crisis measures, it was clear that even afterwards interest rates would be lower than before the crisis.

“It is clear that there has been a cooling off,” he said of the slack start to the year. “But there is no recession or crisis,” he said, adding that robust demand and rising wages suggested growth would soon pick up again.

He also repeated his scepticism about multi-tiered deposit rates to help well-capitalized banks with excess liquidity, saying he would need to see clear evidence that negative interest rates were hurting lending to the real economy. [L8N21F44P]

Details for a new tranche of long-term ECB bank financing would be announced in June or July, he said, adding that conditions for the financing would likely be stricter than previously.

“I see the news program, TLTRO III, as a bridge … to ease the transition to market financing,” he said. “The new program’s conditions will be less advantageous than before… We should avoid us needing to discuss a TLRO IV or V in a few years’ time.”

He also issued a warning that markets had not yet fully priced in the potential impact of a disorderly Brexit on Britain’s currency.

“If it happened, there could potentially be a revaluation and the pound would come under pressure,” he told the newspaper in the interview, published on Sunday.

(Reporting by Thomas Escritt; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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