Business World

Saturday 24 August 2019

Macron mocks ECB hopeful's U-turn on bond-buying

Mario Draghi and Emmanuel Macron
Mario Draghi and Emmanuel Macron

Michel Rose

French President Emmanuel Macron has derided Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann's "belated" support for a European Central Bank programme of stimulus through government bond purchases, amid talk of the German running to succeed Mario Draghi as head of the ECB.

"I'm very glad, very glad really, that members who had strongly opposed, even legally challenged, Mario Draghi's decisions and OMT have become belated but vigorous converts to this view," Mr Macron told reporters ironically yesterday when asked if Mr Weidmann would be a good ECB president. "I think it means we all have good in ourselves and can all become better people," he continued in jest. "So there are reasons to be optimistic about human nature," Mr Macron added, to laughter in the French press room of the European Council in Brussels.

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He declined to say whether Mr Weidmann had his support.

Mr Weidmann appeared to drop his opposition on Wednesday to the ECB's bond purchase programme, announced during the eurozone debt crisis, as he sought to improve his position in the race to succeed Mr Draghi.

The head of the German Bundesbank was the sole opponent on the ECB's Governing Council to the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme, which he saw as financing governments. In 2013, Mr Weidmann testified against the ECB in a German court case over the OMT.

Mr Weidmann, a guardian of German economic orthodoxy who has often opposed the ECB's easy-money policy, is one of the candidates to replace Mr Draghi as ECB president in November, but he may face opposition from indebted countries in the bloc's south, which favour lower interest rates. In an interview with German newspaper Die Zeit's online edition, Mr Weidmann appeared to accept the OMT, saying: "The European Court of Justice has examined OMT and determined it to be legal. Moreover, OMT is current policy."

Reuters

Irish Independent

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