March 4, 2008 / 8:43 AM / 12 years ago

HIGHLIGHTS-EU and euro zone finance ministers' meeting=2

On Monday:

ECB PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET

On the United States’ stated strong-dollar policy:

“In the present circumstances I consider very important what has been affirmed and reaffirmed by the U.S. authorities including the secretary of the Treasury and the president of the United States, according to whom the strong-dollar policy is in the interests of the United States of America.”

FRENCH ECONOMY MINISTER CHRISTINE LAGARDE

At news conference: “I simply want to underline in passing ... that the president of the ECB, contrary to his custom, chose to talk today about exchange rates when entering the meeting.”

“He used the same terms as the Eurogroup so there is clearly a coherence and consistency in the remarks expressed.”

Asked why Eurogroup chose to express its views on exchange rates on Monday: “There are psychological thresholds. The $1.50 (level per euro) constitutes, rightly or wrongly, a somewhat emblematic character and the fact that it rapidly went past the $1.50 level to go to $1.5275 ... was indicative of a moment that leads people to take the positions that were taken today.”

EU MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JOAQUIN ALMUNIA

On economy:

“We have mixed signals on how things are going in this first quarter.”

On inflation:

“The inflation figures released by Eurostat show that the headline inflation in the euro area is maintained at 3.2 percent

On Monday:

ECB PRESIDENT JEAN-CLAUDE TRICHET

On the United States’ stated strong-dollar policy:

“In the present circumstances I consider very important what has been affirmed and reaffirmed by the U.S. authorities including the secretary of the Treasury and the president of the United States, according to whom the strong-dollar policy is in the interests of the United States of America.”

FRENCH ECONOMY MINISTER CHRISTINE LAGARDE

At news conference: “I simply want to underline in passing ... that the president of the ECB, contrary to his custom, chose to talk today about exchange rates when entering the meeting.”

“He used the same terms as the Eurogroup so there is clearly a coherence and consistency in the remarks expressed.”

Asked why Eurogroup chose to express its views on exchange rates on Monday: “There are psychological thresholds. The $1.50 (level per euro) constitutes, rightly or wrongly, a somewhat emblematic character and the fact that it rapidly went past the $1.50 level to go to $1.5275 ... was indicative of a moment that leads people to take the positions that were taken today.”

EU MONETARY AFFAIRS COMMISSIONER JOAQUIN ALMUNIA

On economy:

“We have mixed signals on how things are going in this first quarter.”

On inflation:

“The inflation figures released by Eurostat show that the headline inflation in the euro area is maintained at 3.2 percent and we hope that this can start to diminish in the coming months.”

On U.S. and European economies:

“We are in a difficult environment with strong uncertainties with bad news coming from the U.S. economy during last week but regarding the European economies, the euro area economies, we have mixed feelings.”

“We know that we will not be immune to the situation of financial markets, to the slowdown in the U.S. economy. But at the same time we are perceiving this strong resilience of our economies that is a good tool in our hands to weather as much as possible this situation.”

On foreign exchange, ECB:

“We have some problems on the inflation side because of oil and commodities prices, but we have inflation going down in our forecasts for the second half of the year and we do have growth.”

“Exchange rates should reflect the fundamentals of economies.”

“In the case of the U.S. dollar, the U.S. Treasury has expressed it many times, that it is interested in having a strong dollar.”

Asked whether the European Central Bank was too powerful, he said:

“The ECB is independent and it is doing a very good job.”

DUTCH FINANCE MINISTER BOS

On exchange rates, economy and Trichet:

“Exchange rates should reflect economic fundamentals. We think it is important that the Americans have reaffirmed that a strong dollar is in the interest of the American economy.”

BELGIAN FINANCE MINISTER REYNDERS

“We are concerned about the situation of the dollar. We are happy to see that for the U.S. authorities it is possible to say also that there is concern.”

EUROGROUP’S JUNCKER

On foreign exchange:

“I am starting to become increasingly concerned and vigilant.”

“Existing exchange rates do not give an adequate reflection of the fundamental data.”

“Today for the first time in our agreed terms of reference we say that in the present circumstances we are concerned about excessive exchange rate moves.”

“In the present circumstances we are concerned about exchange rate moves.”

“We have never previously said that we were concerned on the basis of current circumstances.”

“We don’t think the recent moves are reflecting economic fundamentals.”

“We still maintain that excessive volatility and disorderly movements in exchange rates would not be desirable for economic growth.”

On economic fundamentals:

“We still feel that the economic fundamentals of the euro zone are good. Economic growth is robust enough in the euro zone for us to have confidence in it and we would like the consumer to have that same confidence in the zone.”

“We see the euro zone as reacting in a very resilient way to those external shocks.”

“We continue with fiscal consolidation.”

“We ... still feel we do not need a recovery plan American-style here in Europe.”

On wage moderation:

“We believe wage moderation is still appropriate — that means wages may increase but they have to increase in line with productivity gains made.”

On oil prices:

“We believe oil prices remain at a high level but we believe that there should be no second-round effects in Europe.”

On a savings tax directive:

“There is no need for a snap decision and there can’t be taboos.”

ANDREJ BAJUK, FINANCE MINISTER OF EU PRESIDENT SLOVENIA:

Asked whether he was worried about the exchange rate of the euro:

“We are always concerned about that. This is not a development ... that is encouraging.”

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