Eurozone inflation ‘unlikely to fall below ECB target rate’

INFLATION across the eurozone is unlikely to fall below the European Central Bank’s target rate of 2% this year, ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet said in Dublin last night.

Speaking at the annual dinner of Financial Services Ireland (FSI), the IBEC-sponsored body representing the Irish financial services industry, Mr Trichet said current market expectations for oil prices had a “visible, direct impact” on inflation this year.

But, he said, inflation would fall below 2% next year if the one-off shocks seen this year were not repeated.

Mr Trichet also said concern over the oil prices should be seen in context. When expressed in euro terms, oil prices were “significantly smaller” than during previous oil shocks in 1973 and 1979.

Financial Services Ireland chairman Willie Slattery also told attendees that European financial authorities should work to make sure that cities outside the main London/Frankfurt/Paris axis were not left behind when it came to making Europe the global centre for financial services.

Mr Slattery, who is chief executive of the Irish office of international fund management giant State Street, said promoting other cities, such as Dublin and Luxembourg, should be a priority for new EU internal markets commissioner Charlie McCreevy.

Mr Slattery also drew attention to the importance of regulating the financial services industry in a flexible and business-friendly manner.

“Europe should learn from the mistakes of the US,” he said. “The US-centric regulatory environment means that the US is uncompetitive for non-US business. In the area of regulation, our approach should be pragmatic and closer to Paris or Berlin than Boston or Washington”.

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