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The Year Ahead/Global Economics

If Italy Behaves Itself, Mario Draghi’s Parting Gift for Europe May Be a Rate Hike

The European Central Bank president hasn’t hiked once in seven years.
ECB headquarters in Frankfurt.

ECB headquarters in Frankfurt.

Photographer: Klaus Ohlenschläger/Picture-Alliance/DPA/AP Photo

One day next fall, Mario Draghi may do something he hasn’t done in seven years as European Central Bank president: raise interest rates.

The 71-year-old Italian is in his final stretch as the Continent’s crisis-fighter-in-chief after a tenure defined by multiple volleys of monetary easing. With the ECB poised to halt a buying spree that hoovered up €2.6 trillion ($2.9 trillion) of the region’s bonds, Draghi and the other members of the bank’s Governing Council are hinting that their first move to undo more than half a decade of stimulus might come just before his exit at the end of October.