FRANKFURT, March 24 The European Central Bank's
chief economist stood by the ECB's pledge to keep its policy
easy in a newspaper interview published on Friday, after
comments by other rate-setters raised questions about the bank's
The ECB has said it would keep buying bonds until at least
the end of the year and keep interest rates at current record
low levels or even cut them until "well past" that point.
"Our forward guidance has served us well and led to
financial conditions that are appropriate," Peter Praet told Il
Sole 24 Ore.
"We reiterated it. We had no discussion on sequencing in the
Austrian governor Ewald Nowotny said the ECB would decide at
a later time whether to raise rates before or after its
bond-buying programme comes to an end. His Italian peer Ignazio
Visco said the time between the end of the purchases and the
first rate hike could be shortened.
"We do not give a date for when that will be," Praet said.
"The Governing Council will decide in due course how long that
'well past' will be."
Praet also emphasised slow wage growth and said the ECB
would have to be "patient".
"Wage evolutions...may reveal that there is more slack in
the euro area labour markets than unemployment rates show,"
"We have to be patient."
(Reporting By Francesco Canepa; Editing by Hugh Lawson)