El País Interview Mario Draghi, President of the ECB

A modest recovery in Europe 

“The recovery – albeit modest – is robust. We are growing and inflation is improving. Europe’s GDP has returned to its pre-crisis level, although this has taken seven and a half years…The main drivers behind this recovery have been low oil prices and our monetary policy. This recovery is stronger than past ones because it is based on the increase in consumption and domestic demand, and not only on exports.”

Politics has been and will continue to be a major influencer

“Indeed, political uncertainty is dominant. This year we have suffered a multitude of uncertainties: first there was the slowdown in China and the stagnation of world trade, then the Brexit referendum and the election in the United States. The key question is how much this political uncertainty is going to affect the economic recovery…In the medium term it is not yet clear what the consequences of past, current and future political uncertainty will be. There will be consequences, that much is certain.”

On Brexit

“The longer the negotiations take, the longer the uncertainty. It will be more difficult for investors and other economic agents in the UK to make decisions. Now, the impact of course is going to be stronger on the UK than it is on the EU and on the euro area, but certainly the UK is a large economy, so it will have an effect here too.”

There are no bubbles in the Euro area

“We are monitoring financial stability risks, but we see no bubbles in the euro area. There are house price increases in Milan, Barcelona and some German cities, but they are selective and limited to specific areas. In order to speak of bubbles there must be a hike in prices and strong increases in lending. We are not seeing that dynamic. Lending is growing, but at rates of 3%, not at the 15% we saw before the crisis.”

Having weighed the pros and cons of low interest rates, low rates are essential for recovery

“We are aware that low interest rates affect the interest rate margins of some banks, but they also have positive effects on bank profitability by supporting the recovery, reducing loan losses and increasing the valuation of assets. We also cannot deny that some people, like pensioners without debt who rent their homes, may be hurt by low interest rates. The only honest answer that we can give them is that the low interest rates are essential for a full recovery, and when this is achieved interest rates will rise.”

Full transcript at: