(Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank is in the final stretch of its historic cycle of interest-rate increases, according to Governing Council member Gabriel Makhlouf.
“Given our current outlook for inflation, we are likely to be close to ‘the top of the ladder,’” he said Saturday in Dubrovnik, Croatia. “So slowing the pace to standard rate steps is appropriate.”
The ECB this month shifted to a slower pace in raising borrowing costs, hiking 25 basis points. That’s the smallest move in this cycle of 375 basis points of tightening, which kicked off in July and is likely to see at least two more steps of that size in June and July. Some policymakers are pushing for more in September, though Makhlouf didn’t commit to that.
“The calibration of monetary policy from here has to remain data dependent given prevailing uncertainties,” he said, reiterating the ECB’s commitment to “bringing inflation back to its 2% target in the medium term.”
Makhlouf, who heads Ireland’s central bank, also highlighted that “at times like this — when inflation is already far too high — expansive fiscal policy risks undermining” policymakers’ attempts to tame consumer-price growth.
“At a minimum, fiscal policy should avoid directly contributing to the building up of inflationary pressures,” he said. “But preferably, fiscal authorities should support the disinflation effort by gradually bringing down high public debt, while also calibrating their policies to make our economy more productive and to avoid adverse distributional effects.”
That sentiment was shared by his Belgian counterpart — Pierre Wunsch — who, speaking at the same event, said that central bankers “need fiscal support to bring inflation back to 2%.”
(Updates with fiscal support starting in fifth paragraph)
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