Merkel Says Legitimate for Germany to Question ECB's Low Rates

  • Debate shouldn't be confused with intervention, Merkel says
  • Chancellor calls on EU leaders to do more to spur growth

Euro Area Will Have Low Inflation for a Long Time: Draghi

Chancellor Angela Merkel said the debate in Germany over the European Central Bank’s low interest rates and the impact on savers is legitimate, even as she expressed support for the central bank’s independence. 

“That people in Germany are talking about ECB rates being higher in the past -- that this has certain effects -- I think is legitimate,” Merkel told reporters Thursday alongside Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte in the Dutch city of Eindhoven. “That shouldn’t be confused with intervening in the independent policy of the ECB, which I fully support.”

The comment came hours after ECB President Mario Draghi called out critics of the central bank’s stimulus, warning that such attacks risked disrupting the efficacy of the stimulus measures meant to spur the region’s economy. Chief among Draghi’s antagonists has been Merkel’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schaeuble, who this month said ECB policy was whittling away Germans’ savings and abetting the rise of populist politics.

The chancellor, speaking after a joint German-Dutch cabinet meeting, said the low-interest-rate environment should spur European Union leaders to “do their homework” to create growth. 

“It’s undisputed that monetary policy can’t solve all issues,” Merkel said. “The better we do it, the faster economic growth will arrive and interest rates will rise again.”

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