Europe’s Policymakers Get Ready to Lower Rates, Regardless of the Fed

Several of the central bank’s policymakers said the council remained cautious and did not want to hastily ease monetary policy in case inflationary pressures had not fully subsided. Inflation in the services sector has held stubbornly at 4 percent for the past few months, and geopolitical risks, such as the conflict in the Middle East, could have sudden and large economic ramifications.

Among Europe’s policymakers, there is still a debate about how many rate cuts there might be and how big. The I.M.F. recommended that the E.C.B. cut rates quarterly in quarter-point increments until September 2025, which would take the deposit rate to 2.5 percent, from 4 percent.

Investors are also betting the E.C.B. will cut rates three times this year — at meetings in June, September and December, when the central bank publishes new quarterly projections about the economy and inflation.

“I have no major objections with what the markets have been pricing recently,” said Martins Kazaks, Latvia’s central bank governor. Though the quarterly forecasts are important, decisions could be made at meetings without them, he said.

“What happens in the U.S. in terms of inflation stickiness, of course, raises some more questions, but, in my view, disinflation continues,” he added. Unless “something dramatic happens” the E.C.B. is on track to cut rates in June, he added.

Mario Centeno, Portugal’s central bank governor, said the size of a rate move was “an open issue.”

“I will prefer small movements than big moves and then stopping” because it sends a clearer message to investors and is more conservative in the face of economic uncertainty, he said. “But there’s nothing that prevents us to move quicker at the beginning and then slowing it down.”

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