ECB’s Asmussen Says Minutes Should Disclose Who Voted for What

European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said the publication of a record of Governing Council meetings should reveal each member’s position in the debate.

“In my personal view, the minutes summarizing the main policy discussions should include who voted for what and the reasoning behind that vote,” Asmussen said at an event in Brussels today. “Publishing the minutes in such a way will sharpen our mandate, because the ECB will then have to explain why its decisions are in line with its European mandate.”

Asmussen’s comments contrast with the line taken by President Mario Draghi, who said on Sept. 5 that more transparency at the Frankfurt-based ECB shouldn’t compromise members’ independence. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said last month that while he’s in favor of publishing minutes, the central bank may decide not to deliver a verbatim account.

“One should not overestimate the risk that pressure is exercised of members of the Governing Council, especially governors of national central banks,” Asmussen said. “In my view, someone who takes up such a position should be able to withstand such pressure.”

Exit Strategy

The introduction in July of the ECB’s expectations for interest rates based on the outlook for growth and inflation has reduced volatility in market borrowing costs, Asmussen said. At the same time, the ECB has been only “moderately successful” in curbing “overreactions” in rates to economic data.

“It is still early days and it remains to be seen how this evolves in an environment of improving economic data and a generalized increase in global long-term rates,” he said.

Market rates have risen in recent months after the Federal Reserve in Washington signaled it will start reducing monetary stimulus from the U.S. economy. Asmussen said it is still too early for the euro area to start withdrawing its own stimulus, and that the variety of unconventional tools used during the crisis makes communicating an eventual exit more complex.

“Excess liquidity is sterilized with reverse operations,” Asmussen said. “Banks can pay back long-term loans before maturity as market conditions normalize. At the same time, the ECB remains ready to act if conditions deteriorate.”

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