ZURICH, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Former Swiss National Bank Governor Jean-Pierre Roth has criticised the European Central Bank’s monetary easing as excessive and said that only structural reforms could help the euro zone return to robust health.
In an interview aired with Swiss broadcaster SRF on Tuesday, the head of the Swiss National Bank from 2001 to 2009 also defended the current SNB leadership for abandoning in January its cap on the Swiss franc’s exchange rate against the euro.
“I think the ECB policy has gone too far,” said Roth, who is now chairman of Geneva’s cantonal bank, citing the ECB’s aggressive policy steps as undermining the urgency for structural change in euro zone member countries.
“The reform appetite is no longer there. One doesn’t need more expansive monetary policy in Europe. One needs reform.”
Keen to boost weak growth and head off falling prices, the ECB launched a 1 trillion euro ($1.07 trillion)programme of asset purchases in March. ECB chief Mario Draghi last week underlined its readiness to extend money printing.
That in turn could put more pressure on the SNB to weaken the franc, which it has repeatedly called overvalued. It has used negative interest rates and willingness to intervene in currency markets as its main tools to rein in the currency.
Structural reforms favoured by some as an alternative to the ECB’s current money printing policies include revamping pension systems, health care or labour laws and opening closed sectors to more competition.
Roth said history will show that the Swiss central bank’s decision in January to remove the franc cap was “appropriate and correct” despite the hit it caused for exporters and other companies exposed to foreign competition.
“You see that it is painful but we completely underestimate the economy’s capacity to adjust,” he added. ($1 = 0.9379 euros) (Reporting by Michael Shields; Editing by Catherine Evans)