Cypriot central banker favors rate increase

Cypriot central banker favors rate increase

The governor of the Central Bank of Cyprus, Constantinos Herodotou, has said he is in favor of the European Central Bank gradually increasing key interest rates while keeping its options open, stressing that the ECB should consider the impact of each increase and act accordingly.

Speaking to CNBC on Wednesday on the sidelines of the ECB Forum on Central Banking in Sintra, Portugal, Herodotou said the ECB was working to prepare a tool to tackle the fragmentation of government bond yields in the markets, but added that there were no final decisions yet.

This tool, he said, “should be large enough and powerful enough to be effective but designed to avoid ethical risk issues.”

He also estimated that inflation in the eurozone is expected to peak this year, with the latest figures showing a decline next year and a decline toward the ECB target (2%) in 2024.

Asked about the pace of interest rate increases, Herodotou said he was a supporter of the gradual approach and open to options. He recalled that the normalization of the expansionary policy started in December with the announcement of the end of the emergency asset purchase program for the Covid-19 pandemic (PEPP), followed by the end of the APP program in July. Consequently, the ECB announced the first interest rate increase in July, followed by a new increase in September.

“It is important to recognize how much uncertainty there is because of the war in Ukraine and the surprises that come with energy prices,” he said.

“Therefore I would prefer to raise interest rates gradually. We announced an increase of 25 basis points, wait for the reactions in the economy and then move on with consequent increases,” he said, adding that a gradual approach is also good for the economy.

Asked if the cycle of increases will be completed this year, he said that does not seem to be the best-case scenario for the eurozone “and that is why it is important to see the impact of each increase and decide accordingly.”

Regarding the interrelation of the Cypriot economy with Russia, Herodotou said that there is no dependence on the Russian economy. In particular, he explained that only 4% of the total deposits in Cypriot lenders have Russian final beneficiaries, while only 0.7% of the total loans belong to Russians.

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