ECB's Holzmann calls for four more 50 bps rate hikes- Handelsblatt

ECB policymaker Holzmann holds news conference on latest economic forecasts in Vienna
European Central Bank policymaker Robert Holzmann holds a news conference on the latest economic forecasts by the Austrian National Bank, which he heads, the day after a scheduled rate-setting meeting in Vienna, Austria, December 16, 2022. REUTERS/Lisa Leutner

BERLIN, March 6 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank should raise interest rates by 50 basis points at each of its next four meetings as inflation is proving to be stubborn, Austrian central bank chief Robert Holzmann told German business daily Handelsblatt.

The ECB has raised rates by 3 percentage points since July and flagged a 50 basis point increase for March. It has left the door open to subsequent moves, which it said would be decided on "meeting by meeting" and be "data dependent."

Holzmann, an outspoken conservative - or hawk in policy terms - however said that based on current trends, he would favour 50 basis point moves in March, May, June and July.

"I expect it to take a very long time for inflation to come down," Holzmann was quoted on Monday as saying. "My hope is that within the next 12 months we will have reached the peak of interest rates."

The four steps advocated by Holzmann would take the deposit rate to 4.5%, well above the 4% peak rate priced in by markets, a level no other policymaker has so far advocated in public.

"If we want to get inflation back to two percent in the foreseeable future, we have to be restrictive," Holzmann said, arguing that only a 4% deposit rate will start restricting growth.

Holzmann also called on the ECB to accelerate the reduction of the bank's balance sheet, possibly through ending full reinvestments in its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) earlier than planned.

All debt maturing in the PEPP scheme is now set to be fully reinvested into the market through 2024.

Writing by Friederike Heine and Balazs Koranyi, Editing by Paul Carrel and John Stonestreet

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