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MNI (London)
By Christian Vits
     FRANKFURT (MNI) - European Central Bank policymakers drew a very positive
picture for the economic development in the euro area at their most recent
policy meeting, held Dec 13/14.
     The ECB's chief economist Peter Praet underlined that incoming information
"indicated a significant improvement in the growth outlook and continued
economic expansion at a pace exceeding potential," the bank said in its latest
minutes, published Thursday. At the same time, "price pressures remained
subdued," the report added.
     Further ahead, the economic expansion and the associated "significant
absorption of economic slack" were expected to a gradual convergence of
inflation levels in line with the ECB's target over the medium term.
     Several observations were made on the apparent disconnect between
developments in the real economy and price dynamics, according to the minutes.
     "This disconnect appeared to have persisted or even increased over recent
months, as growth had repeatedly been stronger than expected in the euro area
and inflation dynamics had remained largely unchanged or surprised on the
downside," the ECB noted.
     However, "confidence was widely expressed that, ultimately, the further
absorption of slack should lead to upward wage and price pressures."
--MNI Frankfurt Bureau; +49 69 97782671; email:
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