ECB Met Goldman, Barclays, Moore Capital Before December Meeting

  • ECB proactively publishes diary information for first time
  • Past diaries showed meetings shortly before rate decisions

Top-ranking European Central Bank officials met employees from banks including Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Barclays Plc and hedge fund Moore Europe Capital Management just weeks before they unveiled a package of new stimulus measures in December.

While the diaries of the Executive-Board members show multiple gatherings with investors in November, the last one occurred on Nov. 26. The two days directly before the Dec. 3 meeting aren’t included in this release.

The records, released voluntarily for the first time, suggest officials may be curtailing meetings with investors and bankers at crucial times. The Financial Times reported in November that senior ECB policy makers met with lenders directly before major Governing Council announcements in 2014 and 2015.

November’s diaries show Chief Economist Peter Praet met with Goldman to discuss “current economic issues” on Nov. 20 and Barclays on the same topic on Nov. 5. He discussed developments in China with Moore Europe Capital Management on Nov. 12. Policy maker Benoit Coeure also met with Barclays as well as Candriam Investors Group and King Street Capital Management.

The diaries underscore how the central bank’s culture is shifting as the Frankfurt-based institution makes an effort toward greater transparency and tries to combat the perception that it allows disparate access to market-moving information. In recent months the ECB, led by President Mario Draghi, has reinforced its rules on board members’ conduct and openness.

Both Praet and Coeure met with an unidentified former governor of the Japanese central bank to discuss “current economic issues” on Nov. 17 and Vice President Vitor Constancio met with Swiss National Bank Governing Board Member Fritz Zurbruegg to discuss “financial-market developments” on Nov. 19.

On Dec. 3, the Frankfurt-based ECB said it would extend quantitative-easing until at least March 2017 and broaden the assets purchased to include local and regional debt. It also reduced its deposit rate by 10 basis points to minus 0.3 percent.

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