Bankers sanguine on inflation levels

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CENTRAL bankers from the main industrial countries said yesterday that inflation pressures were under control. But Hans Tietmeyer, president of the Bundesbank, hinted that German interest rates might not have much further to fall despite an improving inflation climate.

Their comments at the International Monetary Conference in London coincided with a statement from leading industrial governments that the outlook for economic growth was brightening, and that where expansion was entrenched, monetary policy should remain vigilant against rekindled inflation pressures.

The concluding communique from the annual meeting of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris also said that in countries where recovery was not yet fully assured, rates should drop further.

Mr Tietmeyer said that a German recovery based on rising exports was broadening, adding: 'I hope and expect that the inflation rate will go down further.' His remarks indicate that, in spite of a projected fall from the current rate of 2.9 per cent, there may be little need to drop interest rates further.

Alan Greenspan, chairman of the US Federal Reserve, said US inflation, currently 2.4 per cent, was 'clearly restrained' after a series of interest-rate increases. Jean-Claude Trichet, governor of the Bank of France, said French inflation should stick at around 2 per cent or less in the next few years, and Yasushi Mieno, governor of the Bank of Japan, said Japanese prices were stable.

Mr Greenspan told the conference that he expected much more emphasis to be put on self-regulation in the derivatives market. His comments confirm recent trends in central bank thinking towards a preference for effective internal systems within banks rather than imposing detailed regulations.

Mr Greenspan hinted at the eventual need for integration of securities and banking regulation, saying 'there is an increasing awareness that what we are dealing with is a single, integrated global system'.