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ECB to weigh more bond buying if war crashes economy -Schnabel

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Isabel Schnabel, member of the German advisory board of economic experts attends the 29th Frankfurt European Banking Congress (EBC) at the Old Opera house in Frankfurt, Germany November 22, 2019. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski/File Photo

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank would consider extending its money-printing programme beyond this summer if the euro zone economy fell into a “deep recession” because of the conflict in Ukraine, ECB board member Isabel Schnabel said on Thursday.

The ECB said earlier this month its would end its bond-buying stimulus scheme this summer and raise interest rates for the first time in over a decade some time after that, as it comes to grips with a sudden rise in inflation.

Schnabel, the most hawkish of the six board members who run the ECB, said the central bank had “left the door ajar” in case events took a turn for the worse for the euro zone, which is highly dependent on Russian gas and other raw materials.

“If we now fall into a deep recession due to the Ukraine crisis, we’ll have to rethink that,” she told a German web show.

“Otherwise, we’ll end the bond purchases in the third quarter and as soon as we’ve done that we can raise rates at any time depending on how inflation develops.”

Estonian central bank governor Madis Mueller, another hawk on the ECB’s policy-making Governing Council, said in a Politico interview the ECB would only extend its Asset Purchase Programme if there was “a dramatic shift” in the inflation outlook.

His Portuguese peer Mario Centeno, a dove, cautioned the “normalisation of the ECB’s monetary policy will be carried out gradually and proportionally at the end of this year”.

The ECB has said it expects the euro zone’s economy to expand by 3.7% this year and would still grow even if stricter sanctions were imposed on Russia or supply dried up and financial markets seized up.

The central bank for the 19 countries that share the euro sees inflation above or at its 2% target this year and the next under any scenario.

ECB to weigh more bond buying if war crashes economy -Schnabel

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