There are 25 people who sit on the European Central Bank’s governing council. The big players, like ECB President Mario Draghi and Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann, are well-known. But there are dozens of other council members whose views have a huge impact on the central bank’s decisions.
We’ve judged each member’s importance on a scale of 1-5 (based on things such as the size of the country they represent and whether they sit on the executive board) and presented them in order from the most hawkish to the most dovish. ITC Markets and Credit Suisse produced similar rankings in the past.
Doves are typically members who often want more monetary easing from the central bank. They’re usually the first in favour of interest rate cuts and more positive about the beneficial potential of quantitative easing (QE), which means buying up government bonds to try and boost the economy.
Hawks are the opposite. They’re more sceptical of QE and typically favour higher interest rates and often express concerns about financial instability caused by easy money. These are the policymakers who typically focus on supply-side remedies to make economies more competitive, and are more critical of the impact of loose monetary policy.
This will hardly surprise anyone who watches the ECB. Weidmann is Europe's most hawkish prominent monetary policy maker.
Here are some of his recent comments:
On the ECB's QE: 'I regard this decision with scepticism'
On QE again:
I thought that there was no urgent need for this measure - not least because government bond purchases are not a monetary policy instrument like our policy rates, for instance.
Central banks are not magicians. And they have no wand to make all our wishes come true. In particular, it is fanciful to believe that monetary policy tools can sustainably lift the growth potential of an economy or permanently create new jobs. These goals can only be achieved through structural reforms.
As the representative of Europe's largest economy, Weidmann has an over-sized impact, and he's among the most influential members of the governing council.
In 2013, Mersch expressed 'considerable uncertainty' over negative deposit rates (which were eventually brought in) and added that 'a low-interest-rate environment may in principle spur an underpricing of certain risks, support the emergence of asset price bubbles, or provide incentives to delay certain adjustments in bank balance sheets with the risk of zombie-banking.'
He was very negative about QE back in 2013, and hadn't much changed his views by the end of 2014. According to CNBC, in November here's what he said:
'Easing of monetary policy cannot work effectively when the European economy is structurally not in good shape,' Mersch said in a speech at an annual banking conference in Frankfurt.
'I would feel a lot better if those politically responsible clearly committed to lowering the risk for the ECB,' he said, referring to commitments for lower sovereign debt, closer fiscal and economic integration and structural reforms.
Even though he's on the executive board, Mersch is quite a forthright hawk.
Klaas Knot is a monetary economist, he's worked at the IMF and the Dutch finance ministry, and he's definitely on the very hawkish end of the ECB spectrum.
Knot said he would only support QE if national central banks took their own risk, which is seen by some economists as something that weakens the scheme.
He said there wasn't much more the ECB could do (in 2011!) and raised fears that loose monetary policy would create financial bubbles as recently as October.
He's not as vocal or powerful as Weidmann, but no doubt: He's a solid hawk.
Liikanen was a career politician with Finland's social democrats, and an EU commissioner. He's coming into his 11th year as Finland's central bank chief. Before Draghi became ECB president, there were suggestions that he might take the top spot.
Here's a snippet from his latest speech: 'Monetary policy can neither micromanage the needed structural transformation in the real sector of the economy nor solve excessive deficit problems of governments'.
Though he seems to lean a little to the hawkish side, Liikanen also told the WSJ last year that he thought negative interest rates were not controversial any more (before the ECB implemented them). So he's not quite as severe as Weidmann and Mersch.
Thought Rimsevics has been governor of the Bank of Latvia since 2001, Latvia only joined the euro on 1 January 2014, so he's likely had other things on his mind.
At a press conference in December, he said (emphasis his):
In current circumstances, as the Eurosystem is carrying out an active and stimulating monetary policy, the implementation of the other two economic pillars, fiscal policy and structural reforms, is of ever greater significance…
If the existing monetary instruments are not enough to prevent the risks related to too long a period of low inflation in the euro area, the ECB Council will be ready to supplement the existing range of monetary policy instruments
These sort of statements were pretty much the standard lines of the ECB's Mario Draghi about a year ago, but he's dropped the emphasis on structural reform that Rimsevics has been pushing for years. Bloomberg suggested that the Bundesbank had gained an ally when Latvia joined the euro, and it seems like he leans in that direction.
Like her German counterpart, Lautenschlager is definitely on the hawkish end. She was nominated to the ECB governing council in late 2013.
According to Der Spiegel, Lautenschlager said in mid-January that she was 'not convinced' about the QE programme brought in just a week later. Though it was not contentious enough to even come to a vote, it's very likely that Lautenschlager was one of the hold-outs that stopped the decision being unanimous.
However, in July 2014, during an interview with the WSJ she said she was open to the idea of negative rates. More recently she called it a 'justified monetary policy step'. So perhaps she's not quite as much of a hawk as Weidmann. It may be a little early to say.
Jazbec became Slovenia's central bank governor in 2013, and has generally made slightly hawkish comments, emphasising structural reform and expressing scepticism about the abilities of monetary policy.
In a speech in September 2014: 'Revival of credit growth is also difficult because of the tensions between monetary policy considerations and financial stability considerations. The global crisis has demonstrated very clearly the importance of having adequate safeguards in place to prevent unhealthy risk taking and creation of credit bubbles.'
He was sceptical of negative rates, according to Reuters:
'I find negative interest rates a very difficult concept to understand, personally,' Jazbec said.
'I think it would be irresponsible for me as a governor if I haven't explored all different possibilities. And yes, negative interest rates could be there, but I think that we are still very far away from any extreme measure in my view.'
In an interview with the WSJ: 'The QE will have the full effect only if it's complemented, not compensated, with all the needed structural reforms in the euro area. And I stress complement, not compensate.
Hansson is the longest-serving member of the council from any of the Baltic states, sitting since 2012.
'There's an issue of possible effectiveness,' Mr. Hansson explained, noting that yields on government bonds of eurozone countries are already quite low and 'in many cases extremely low.'
If the ECB does consider public-debt purchases, 'I would want to be convinced that we are both in the letter and in the spirit' of ECB rules that forbid if from financing governments.
However, a year earlier he was early to be open-minded to the possibility of introducing negative rates, breaking ranks with other hawks. He still seems to lean in that direction.
Vasiliauskas is the new kid on the ECB governing council block: Lithuania only joined the euro in January 2015.
Here he is in Bloomberg late in 2014: 'The ECB alone within its mandate can't solve all the problems. It can't simply splash money, the economic situation in the euro zone won't improve just because of that.'
Reuters suggests he may lean slightly hawkish, but he also said in January 2015 that he was flexible about introducing quantitative easing in the eurozone, adding that 'at the moment, the situation in the euro zone is not particularly good.'
As of now, it's really too soon to tell, but we suspect he's probably on the hawkish side.
Nowotny came up through politics in Austria's centre-left party, and he's often described as a bit of a hawk, but not so much as his German counterpart. There's not actually very much evidence for that, so we've put him toward the middle.
He expressed scepticism about QE before it was brought in, but conceded that he wouldn't rule it out. He also said just before the decision was taken that if you have to do something like that, you should do it sooner rather than later.
Back in the middle of 2013, it looked like Europe was coming out of recession, though still particularly weak, and Nowotny said a rate cut was not on the cards.
As another newbie, there's not much to judge Stournaras on. He was previously Greece's finance minister.
Stournaras won't have much formal influence: he's in the lower-ranking group of central bank chiefs, and the Greek economy is not very large. He may have a little more influence in particular circumstances simply because he's from Greece, often the focal point of European crisis.
He's understandably preoccupied with his own country's depression-like conditions and its shattered banking system: As far as I can see he's made no comments of any consequence on QE or interest rates since he came into office. The few he has made are boilerplate ECB-speak, so there's no place for him but the centre.
Reinesch was appointed in 2013. Even by the standards of the quieter members of the ECB's governing council, he is pretty much silent.
There's no indication that he has any opinions whatsoever. His importance rating could conceivably be in negative territory.
As governor of the second-biggest economy in the eurozone's central bank, Noyer has clout, though he doesn't make headlines as often as Jens Weidmann. ITC Markets has him as leaning toward the dovish end of the spectrum, but he's actually pretty even-handed.
He was sceptical of negative interest rates back in 2013, according to Bloomberg:
'We have prepared so that in case of a need we could implement it,' Noyer said in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Paris yesterday. 'This is technically very delicate. I'm personally not convinced there's an interest in doing that.'
Bloomberg also suggested late last year that Noyer was concerned that the ECB's security-buying programme exposed it to too much risk.
Though he seemed to be supportive of quantitative easing this time round, as recently as September 2014 he was not particularly enamoured with the idea. He's definitely no hawk, but doesn't really fit very well as a dove either.
Georghadji's comments on monetary policy are few and far between.
She was Cyprus' auditor general for six years previously, and seems to have spent most of her time in office so far concentrating on Cyprus-specific issues.
Given so little in the English-language media on her monetary policy views, it's impossible to suggest Georghadji is either hawkish or dovish.
Costa is a bit of a question mark. He's been governor of the Bank of Portugal since 2010 but almost all of his comments are about banking regulation and financial stability.
Both Credit Suisse and ITC markets had Costa down on the very dovish end, but he seems to have said almost nothing about monetary policy over the last five years.
Bloomberg caught this in 2012:
European Central Bank Governing Council member Carlos Costa said the bank was the only European institution that 'was doing the work it should' trying to solve the sovereign debt crisis. 'Politicians have to place themselves ahead of the curve and not behind the curve,'Costa said at an event in Lisbon today.
Other than that, pretty much zilch. We put him in the centre just from a simple lack of any obvious opinions.
Like Greece's Stournaras, Honohan gains a slightly oversized importance because of his country's position. Late in 2014, the astonishing letters sent between Honohan and former ECB chief Trichet were released, inviting suggestions that the ECB had been putting too much political pressure on Ireland.
Like colleagues in Spain, Portugal, and Greece, he's had to spend a lot of time on his country's banks, and hasn't got as long a record of public comments about monetary policy. He was worried about falling inflation early in 2014, but there's not much more indicative than that.
Some other rankings put him on the dovish end of the spectrum, but there's really very little to go on. We've put him safely in the centre.
ITC Markets has Coeure as leaning dovish and he's been particularly open on the possibility of extending QE.
Just after QE was launched, he suggested that the ECB would keep doing it if necessary after 2016, the preliminary end date of the programme.
'If we haven't achieved what we want to achieve,' said Coeure, the ECB's head of market operations, 'then we'll have to do more, or we have to do it for longer.' Visco, the Italian central-bank governor, said earlier on Friday that 'we are open-ended' about asset purchases.
However, back in 2013, though he was open to rate cuts, he didn't believe that the eurozone needed 'spectacular' action like QE. He's not the committee's most dovish person, but he's definitely on that end of the spectrum.
Draghi is a difficult man to place. On the one hand, he makes more recorded public comments than anyone else. On the other hand, he's careful not to step too far out of line with the average opinion of the ECB's council.
He's certainly not on the hawkish end of the spectrum.
Though for much of the last two years he was stressing the importance of structural reforms and seemed less concerned about the eurozone's falling inflation. At the Jackson Hole conference in 2014, he shifted the debate toward more easing, and suggested the potential for more fiscal measures.
His promises to bring inflation back to its target level 'without delay' were early signals of the QE programme that came two months later, too.
He's left with the unenviable task of balancing a big range of views and a diverse set of economies, but when he's changing the tone of the debate, Draghi always seems to do so in a dovish direction.
Both Credit Suisse and ITC Markets had Makuch on the dovish end of the scale -- we think that's right. He's not a prolific speech-giver but several comments over the years have all leaned in that direction, though not heavily. Most of his remarks just suggest the ECB will do what it takes.
Here's Bloomberg, two and a half years ago, on the Outright Monetary Transactions (OMT) programme: 'ECB Governing Council member Jozef Makuch said on Nov. 14 he'd prefer the ECB not to have to use the OMT and doesn't see any need for any new tools for now.'
Here, in 2012, on more credit easing for banks in the Telegraph: 'Where necessary, the ECB will use measures already used or new ones. Currently the situation is not as such, there is no debate about it.'
And again on credit easing in the WSJ in 2013: 'The ECB will do what needs to be done. If there is a demand for more liquidity in the market, it will do it, that's what the ECB is for.'
He also came out of the gate early in December 2014 to say most of the ECB supported QE. Here's Reuters on that.
Like his Portuguese colleague, Linde has primarily focused on his country's troubled banks, rather than being vocal on monetary policy.
He was arguing that more monetary easing hadn't been ruled out in March 2014, an early voice flagging up the dangers of deflation.
He was also argued that 'interest rates are low now, but they could be lower still' in the same month according to the FT, when most of the ECB wanted to talk more about the coming European recovery.
There are no hawkish tones to be found, but he's clearly not one of the most prominent members of the committee.
Praet has been ECB chief economist since 2012. Though as a member of the governing council, he holds back his public interventions a little. But when he does voice his opinions, they are almost always dovish.
Even in late 2013, Praet was open to the use of QE in the eurozone, at a time when the idea was much more controversial.
Here he is explaining the ECB's forward guidance in 2013. Every time the ECB wants to ease, it seems that Praet is ahead of the curve.
Bonnici has held his post since 2011. He's held a long string of economic positions in his small home country, and his handful of monetary policy remarks indicate that he leans towards the dovish end of the spectrum.
He told the WSJ that negative interest rates were a possibility the ECB was prepared for before they came in, and expressed frustration about the strength of the euro, suggesting a weaker currency was desirable.
In a speech at the end of last year, he also made a clear statement on the dangers of deflation:
It would penalise investors and increase the burden of holding business inventories. It would also discourage consumption, as buyers await lower prices by delaying spending. A de-anchoring of inflation expectations carries a risk of the Euro area becoming stuck in a stagnant environment for a prolonged period of time. Basically, a deflationary scenario would be inconsistent with what is needed to support an economic recovery in Europe.
Visco isn't the most outspoken ECB policymaker, but every time he makes sure his voice is heard, he's saying something dovish. He's not as important as some of the most senior members, but as the representative of Europe's third biggest economy, he carries some weight.
Visco was supporting negative rates back in Spring 2013, more than a year before they were brought in.
Not only was he supportive of the ECB's quantitative easing scheme in January 2015, he also suggested that interest rates could be cut even further into negative territory, according to Bloomberg.
Here's something from BNY Mellon on Visco from 2012, via the Financial Times:
Last December, Visco spoke at the end of a panel discussion which repeatedly called for more ECB intervention and said 'The impression is that there is only one way to convince markets and we'll work on that'. Around the same time, Visco said 'The reason the Germans are so obsessed with debt monetisation is that they equate it with Weimar, Nazism, WWII and the destruction of their country … It's a reason that should be respected, if we don't understand, then we can't discuss'.
Credit Suisse put Visco in the centre, and ITC Markets have him as leaning just a little bit dovish. But as far we can see, his comments justify ranking him as among the most dovish on the council.
Coene was likely one of the earliest proponents of QE, disagreeing with his hawkish neighbour Klaas Knot.
Unlike some other members, he's even been open to the use of easier fiscal policy. Here MNI outlines his views in October 2014:
While he said countries must respect Europe's rules on fiscal policies found inside the Stability and Growth Pact, government's should also explore ways to increasing spending by using the flexibility found inside the rules.The rules on fiscal policy state that countries may be allowed to temporarily deviate from their medium-term structural deficit target as long as low growth and inflation are impede the economic cycle.
By ECB standards, that's about as dovish as it gets.
Constancio was leader of Portugal's centre-left party in the 1980s, and head of the Portuguese central bank from 2000 to 2010. He's widely regarded as one of the most dovish members of the governing council.
In a speech in July 2014, Constancio was unmistakably positive about the use of QE (before it was really on the table in Europe):
The ECB stands ready to deploy additional unconventional instruments, should the likelihood of this scenario increase. The policy response would involve a broad-based asset-purchase programme. The experience of other countries with such programmes testifies that they can be effectively designed. As previously mentioned, various empirical studies suggest that the large purchases carried out in the U.S. and in the U.K. were instrumental in decreasing yields by several tens of basis points, with spillover effects on other asset prices, including mortgage rates and exchange rates. In turn, GDP growth and inflation rates also appear to have been significantly affected. After all, even if they have to use new instruments, central banks cannot avoid their responsibility in ensuring price stability, as long as inflation continues to be determined by monetary policy.
For the vice-president of the ECB, that is transparently dovish. Since ECB QE came in, he's been openly critical of the idea that the eurozone's problems could be solved by supply-side policies alone, according to the FT..
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