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ECB’s Bini Smaghi Says 1% Rate Level Is Not Dogma, Sole Reports

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Dec. 18 (Bloomberg) -- European Central Bank Executive Board member Lorenzo Bini Smaghi said the current 1 percent level of interest rates “is not an impassable limit,” Il Sole 24 Ore reported, citing an interview.

“The ECB has never been dogmatic on this, but you need to take into account that with an inflation rate beyond 2 percent, an interest rate of 1 percent is actually a negative one in real terms,” Bini Smaghi told the Milan-based newspaper in an interview published today.

Bini Smaghi, who is stepping down from the central bank and will attend his last Governing Council meeting this week, said the amount of government bonds purchased by the ECB has to be decided “according to the circumstances,” Sole reported.

The ECB “cannot replace the governments in their duty to ensure sound public finances and an institutional framework of the euro area that can reassure those who invest in European financial markets,” Bini Smaghi said, according to Sole.

Bini Smaghi refused to comment on the causes of his resignation from the ECB’s board, Sole said. “A central banker can use the press exclusively for institutional reasons, specifically to explain monetary policy,” the newspaper cited him as saying. “He cannot use the press for personal purposes, not even to defend himself from unfair and specious accusations made with ulterior motives.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Lorenzo Totaro in Rome at ltotaro@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Craig Stirling at cstirling1@bloomberg.net

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