ECB FOCUS-Europe rates to lead U.S. as global power shifts

By Paul Carrel

FRANKFURT, March 31 (Reuters) – After following the Federal Reserve’s lead for over a decade, the European Central Bank is poised to launch a series of interest rate hikes before the U.S. central bank for the first time in the ECB’s history.

The change from the traditional pattern reflects the ECB’s greater preoccupation with inflation pressures, as well as its higher level of discomfort with the emergency bond-buying programmes run by central banks.

But the “decoupling” of ECB and Fed policies is also the result of an historic shift in the global economy: the increased influence that Asia, rather than the United States, is having on the euro zone’s economy.

“I think we are in a new world where global interest rate cycles are not initiated by the Fed,” said Jens Sondergaard, senior European economist at Nomura.

“There has been a lot of import price inflation pushing up euro area inflation…and a lot of this is related to above-trend growth in Asia.”

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