VIENNA, April 22 The European Central Bank has
decided on interest rates and bond purchases for the rest of
2017 and will decide what to do beyond that in the second half
of this year, ECB Governing Council member Ewald Nowotny said in
an interview published on Saturday.
Nowotny's remarks were in line with recent comments by other
policymakers pushing back against German Finance Minister
Wolfgang Schaeuble, who has called for the ECB to move away from
its ultra-accommodative monetary policy. But Nowotny's remarks
suggested that the soonest any decision would be reached is July
"We have decided for 2017. We are continuing bond purchases
at a reduced level and leaving the interest-rate structures as
they are," Nowotny said in an interview with Austrian magazine
Profil. "In the second half of the year we will then reach the
decisions concerning the period after the end of 2017."
Schaeuble argued on Thursday that the ECB should follow the
U.S. Federal Reserve's lead in charting a course away from an
accommodative monetary policy. Nowotny said the situation in the
euro zone did not allow that yet.
"The Americans have de facto full employment and an
inflation rate close to 2 percent. In the euro zone we have
unemployment of roughly 10 percent and inflation is only picking
up slowly," Nowotny, who heads the Austrian central bank, was
quoted as saying.
(Reporting by Francois Murphy, editing by Larry King)