Lagarde says eurozone must end export dependence

Christine Lagarde

She said the euro area faces major problems - a global slowdown in trade and changes to the structure of the economy across the world.

She called for an investment drive across the 19-nation currency bloc that should be "more productive, more digital and greener".

Echoing her predecessor Mario Draghi's warnings on a lack of.

"Twin external and domestic challenges call on us to consider - as Europeans - how we should respond to the new environment", Ms Lagarde said at a banking conference in Frankfurt.

She said the governments in the euro zone have a common interest in maintaining sufficient levels of public investment, which has been some way below its pre-crisis levels.

Lagarde noted that the euro zone must adapt to these new realities and boost domestic growth.

Public investment remains lower than its precrisis level - infrastructure, research and development and education spending has dropped in almost all eurozone countries.

Traditionally, ECB presidents talk about monetary policy, leaving elected leaders to manage their own economies and how to spend the cash in their coffers.

This trait of Draghi's angered some other European Central Bank rate-setters, particularly those from conservative, cash-rich countries like Germany and the Netherlands.

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Lagarde, however, has stepped up the efforts.

European Central Bank president Christine Lagarde speaking in Frankfurt on Friday.

"Monetary policy can not be complacent if its policy stance raises long-term risks to price stability through the build-up of financial imbalances", Weidmann said. This is maybe a tribute to a mainly German-speaking audience. She already started building bridges earlier this month by taking the 25-member Governing Council on a retreat to a luxury hotel to discuss their decision-making processes and communication.

In her only policy-related remarks, Lagarde confirmed she would "soon" start a review of the ECB's policy framework, a wide-ranging effort that is expected to involve a redesign of its inflation aim.

"Monetary policy will continue to support the economy and respond to future risks in line with our price stability mandate", Lagarde said.

Those would bring allow monetary policy, the ECB's remit, to achieve its goals more quickly and fewer side-effects, she said.

This well rehearsed stance places her roughly in the middle of advocates of easy money in indebted southern European countries and policy "hawks" north of the Alps.

That kind of data, which drove the euro lower, is something Lagarde will need to address at her first policy meeting on December 12.

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