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Friday, 13 April, 2001, 10:20 GMT 11:20 UK
ECB president raps eurozone knuckles
Wim Duisenberg
Wim Duisenberg sent an upbeat message
By the BBC's Jonty Bloom

The European Central Bank held its nerve on Wednesday and did not cut European rates unnecessarily.

That is the headline you probably did not read in your papers on Thursday morning, but looking back at the decision it may be what it looks like in the long run.

Wim Duisenberg made two comments after the meeting of the ECB that bear examination.

The first was that the recent economic forecasts for a slowdown in European growth "should not be a source of pessimism".

I suppose this is central banker speak for "don't panic" and let's face it, we do not pay central bankers all that money and give them all that power so they can panic.

After all the OECD's forecast for the eurozone on Tuesday was that the growth rate was going to slow down to 2.7%.

Stop recession

The Federal Reserve in America has cut rates three times this year to try to stop America sliding into a recession.

Growth of 2.7% is hardly a recession and is still above the trend rate.

The OECD calculations were based on a cut in rates in the near future but to be fair there is no reason, on these calculations, for the ECB to panic.

The other comment by president of the ECB was a rap on the knuckles for the governments of the eurozone.

He said that "monetary policy cannot lift the euro area's production potential".

Basically Mr Duisenberg was saying that if the eurozone's governments are that worried about the threat of a slowdown they could do a lot themselves to help matters by reforming their economies.

The ECB seems to have decided that it is a bit too easy to expect Europe's central bankers to bail out its governments by cutting rates when inflation is still above target.

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See also:

11 Apr 01 | Business
Europe keeps interest rates steady
10 Apr 01 | Business
Europe urged to cut interest rates
29 Mar 01 | Business
Evidence of a European slowdown
29 Mar 01 | Business
Eurozone rate cut on hold
04 Apr 01 | Business
Germany's unemployment rises
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