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'Bear with me,' new ECB boss Lagarde urges lawmakers

Kitco News

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - New European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde asked EU lawmakers on Monday to give her time to learn the ropes of her new job and reshape the ECB’s monetary policy.

“I’m indeed trying to learn German but I’m also trying to learn central bank language,” said Lagarde, previously a lawyer and politician before taking over at the IMF.

“So bear with me, show a little bit of patience, don’t over-interpret, if I may say.”

The former International Monetary Fund director has taken the helm at a difficult time for the ECB, which has recently resumed a 2.6 trillion euro bond-buying program and cut interest rates to record lows after failing to bring inflation back to its target of just below 2%.

A nervous-looking Lagarde diverged from the text of her speech a few times in her first hearing at the European Parliament since replacing Mario Draghi as ECB boss a month ago. Draghi had been known for his subtle policy hints.

Lagarde intends to review the ECB’s inflation goal and how to achieve it, but she hinted that this strategic revamp would was likely to take time.

“The strategy review will be guided by two principles: thorough analysis and an open mind,” Lagarde told lawmakers. “This will require time for reflection and for wide consultation.”

She reaffirmed the ECB’s commitment to reaching its inflation goal despite weak economic growth in the euro zone and abroad.

“Euro area growth remains weak,” Lagarde said.

She noted, however, that consumption had “held up fairly well”, also thanks to the ECB’s monetary stimulus.

Reporting By Francesco Canepa and Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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