European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi sought to take the heat out of a debate about currency wars on Monday but said the ECB would still have to assess the economic impact of the euro’s strength.
The euro hit a 15-month high against the dollar earlier this month, complicating the ECB’s policy-making tasks by weighing on growth and feeding expectations that it may have to take fresh policy action, which some ECB members oppose.
While he expected a very gradual recovery in the euro zone later this year, Draghi said the euro’s exchange rate was important for growth and inflation and that it could threaten to pull down inflation too far.
“We will have to assess in the coming projections whether the exchange rate has had an impact on our inflationary profile, because it’s always through price stability that we address issues like that,” he told European lawmakers in Brussels.
The Group of 20 nations, responding to feverish debate last week about competitive devaluations between the world’s economic powers, said on Saturday there would be no currency war – essentially countries competing to weaken their currencies.
Japan’s expansive policies, which have driven down the yen, escaped direct criticism in a statement thrashed out in Moscow by G20 policymakers.
While Japan and the United States are pursuing loose monetary policies, the ECB is starting to unwind some of its crisis measures – a contrast has helped drive up the euro.“Most of the exchange rate movements that we have seen were not explicitly targeted, they were the result of domestic macro economic policies meant to boost the economy,” Draghi said.
“In this sense, I find really excessive any language referring to currency wars,” he said, adding that the euro’s exchange rate was “around its long-term average.” The G20 statement was not disappointing, he said.
“What I did say at the G20 in Moscow, I urged all parties to (exercise) very, very strong verbal discipline,” Draghi said.
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