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29 June 2016

Reuters: ECB happy to stay put after Brexit vote as markets regain poise: sources

The European Central Bank is in no rush to ease its monetary policy in response Britain's vote to leave the European Union, taking comfort in a calmer-than-feared market reaction.

The Brexit vote has hit the shares of euro zone banks and is likely to act as a drag on the euro zone economy, as ECB President Mario Draghi told EU leaders. It is also raising fundamental questions about the future of the EU.

But conversations with around a dozen officials familiar with the ECB's thinking showed that the bank found some reassurance in the market rebound this week and was happy to take a wait-and-see stance, given the lack of hard evidence about the actual impact of Brexit.

Emergency swap lines designed to provide euros to UK banks in case of stress had not been activated and, contrary to what had happened during the 2008 crash, financial markets had functioned smoothly despite heavy losses in the pound and some shares, the sources, who asked not to be named, said.

They stressed the ECB's willingness to provide more stimulus if the inflation outlook worsens but cautioned the UK vote was raising political questions that were for EU governments and institutions, rather than the central bank, to answer.

The officials added it was too early to assess the impact of the referendum on investor and consumer confidence - the most immediate transmission channel - and the bank would be in a better position to make a call on that when it gets updated staff forecasts in September.

In fact, a new interest rate cut could even exacerbate problems at euro zone banks, which have complained that low lending rates and a charge on the money they park at the ECB were squeezing their margins, some of the sources said.

There was agreement among the officials that the broad selloff in banking shares cast the sector as the weakest link in the European economy, with its meager profits and, in countries such as Italy, heavy burden of bad loans making it vulnerable to any economic downturn.

The ECB's top supervisor, Daniele Nouy, spelled out some of the steps the ECB would like European and national law-makers to take in a letter to a group of members of the European parliament.

"Among other reforms, they should consider streamlining legal processes related to debt recovery, removing impediments to the enforcement of loan collateral, introducing out-of-court debt work-out solutions, and fostering the development of distressed debt markets," Nouy wrote.

Full article

© Reuters

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