UPDATE 1-Deutsche Bank boss worried ECB move will discourage reforms

Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:13am EDT

(Combines stories, adds)

BERLIN, June 18 (Reuters) - The co-chief of Germany's largest bank issued a rare critique of European Central Bank policies on Wednesday, saying he worried that its decision to cut rates to record lows and pump money into the euro zone could remove the incentive for reforms.

Deutsche Bank's Anshu Jain also said in a speech at the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin that growth should top the agenda for European governments, especially in states hardest hit by the euro zone debt crisis.

Jain, who advises governments around the world on financial issues, said the ECB had played a crucial role in restoring stability to the euro zone during the debt crisis but now the onus was on politicians and business.

"Europe has withstood its greatest challenge of the post-war era... Now we must be under no illusions: the focus must shift from stability to growth," he said.

It was imperative, he said, that countries with high debt-to-GDP ratios focused on economic growth rather than relying heavily on monetary policy.

"I do worry that the ECB may be creating preconditions that are taking the pressure off," he said, adding that quantitative easing measures that had been applied successfully in the United States might not work as well in the European context.

His comments echoed fears expressed by many Germans who have warned asset-bubbles may form as a result of the ECB's package of measures which could also discourage reform in crisis-hit euro zone states. There is a deep-rooted fear of inflation in Germany where price stability is a creed.

Jain - who forecast that in the next five years, Asia could grow 36 percent, the United States by 18 percent and Europe by just 9 percent - said it was vital for Europe to improve its competitiveness to boost growth.

To do that, Europe needed to tackle high energy prices, support entrepreneurship and open up labour markets, he said. (Reporting by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Stephen Brown)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.