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ECB hawk Lautenschlaeger resigns amid policy backlash

ECB hawk Lautenschlaeger resigns amid policy backlash
FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) executive board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger delivers her keynote speech during the annual regulatory conference of Austrian markets watchdog FMA in Vienna September 30, 2014. REUTERS/Heinz-Peter Bader/File Photo -
Heinz-Peter Bader(Reuters)
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By Thomas Escritt and Francesco Canepa

BERLIN/FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Germany’s appointee to the board of the European Central Bank, outspoken policy hawk Sabine Lautenschlaeger, has decided to step down, the ECB said on Wednesday, in what was likely to be seen as a further backlash against the latest stimulus measures.

The ECB did not give a reason for Lautenschlaeger’s resignation, which will take effect at the end of next month -more than two years before the end of her term as one of the six members of the Executive Board that runs the central bank.

“Sabine Lautenschlaeger, Member of the Executive Board and Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB), informed President Mario Draghi that she will resign from her position on 31 October 2019,” the ECB said.

Lautenschlaeger did not respond to Reuters’ request for comment.

The announcement comes amid unprecedented discord at the top of the ECB, where a third of policymakers at the Sept. 12 meeting dissented with a decision to resume bond purchases in a bid to revive inflation in the euro area.

Among them was the Bundesbank’s own President, Jens Weidmann, along with governors from France and the Netherlands.

Under unwritten euro zone rules, Germany, France and Italy always have a seat on the ECB’s Executive Board, which means Berlin will now likely propose a new candidate.

Frustration at the central bank’s easy-money policy of sub-zero rates and massive bond buys is running high in Germany, with tabloid Bild depicting ECB President Mario Draghi as a vampire sucking off Germans’ savings.

Lautenschlaeger, who will be entitled to take part in the ECB’s next Governing Council meeting on Oct. 24, is set to become the third consecutive German board member to resign before the end of their full term.

The ECB’s then chief economist, Juergen Stark, resigned in 2011 in conflict with the bank’s policy of buying government bonds to combat the euro zone’s debt crisis.

Two years later Joerg Asmussen quit to become deputy labour minister in the German government.

Lautenschlaeger helped set up the ECB’s banking supervision arm, serving as the first deputy chair of the Single Supervisory Mechanism between 2014 and February this year.

“President Mario Draghi thanked her for her instrumental role in helping set up and steer Europe-wide banking supervision, a key pillar of banking union, as well as her unwavering commitment to Europe,” the bank said.

(Reporting by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Giles Elgood)

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