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ECB's Lane plans to continue private investor meetings

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - European Central Bank chief economist Philip Lane will continue to hold private meetings with investors after policy decisions, in spite of criticism they could give some large financial companies an unfair advantage, he told Reuters.

FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank Chief Economist Philip Lane speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event in New York, U.S., September 27, 2019. REUTERS/Gary He/File Photo

Lane has met privately with a select group of economists from the world’s biggest banks and investment firms after policy decisions since March, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, irking some who say the timing and the selective nature of the briefings may lead to an uneven distribution of information.

“Our standing approach right now is to continue those calls,” Lane told the Reuters Global Investment Outlook Summit, 2021, defending the practice. “It was a deliberate and structured approach... I think it’s part of a good communication policy. But, of course, we keep that always under review.”

Lane said the purpose of the meetings was to listen and gather feedback on how well the ECB’s message was received by markets. He said he was only explaining publicly-available information, not hinting at future moves.

Separate meetings, usually with six to eight banks, were scheduled immediately after policy decisions, then held after ECB President Christine Lagarde’s news conference and after the publication of macroeconomic projections.

“It very much conforms with the key principles of how to interact with the market in relation to already published information. It’s not to front-run future decisions,” Lane said, referring to the problematic practice of giving hints about policy moves ahead of their announcement.

Unlike the ECB, the U.S. Federal Reserve has a blackout period even after policy decisions, which normally lasts until the second day after the meeting.

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The ECB’s meetings take place before Lane, on the day after a policy meeting, published his occasional blog posts that often nuance the ECB’s policy message and guide markets.

While Lane said he could not talk to all close ECB watchers each time, the ECB rotated participants to ensure equal access over time.

He also said no privileged information was shared as every decision was already public.

The meetings have appeared on Lane’s public diary, which is published by the ECB with a three-month delay.

For the full transcript of Lane’s interview, click on

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Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; editing by Barbara Lewis