Move Along, No Euro Split, FX War Here: ECB Wonk
There has been "clear improvement" in the economic situation in Europe over the past year, European Central Bank policymaker Ewald Nowotny told CNBC on Thursday, with concern about a breakup of the single currency "not relevant" any longer.
"Both the governments and also the central banks have done their homework," said Nowotny, who's also head of the Austrian Central Bank.
"So from the financial side, we are clearly in a much more positive situation," he added. "Where we do have a problem, is the real economy — the growth rates — [is] not adequate still."
In a "Squawk Box" interview, he pointed to the disparity between northern Europe's the stronger economies — like his own and Germany's — that have positive growth rates. "[And] the southern countries — many of them, most of them — are still in negative growth."
Nowotny said he does see progress, but structural changes that have been implemented in many of those countries take time to cement. While he hopes the economic situation in those economies improves in 2014, he stressed the challenges they face.
Uncertainty over Italy's election stalemate also has everyone "a bit nervous," Nowotny admitted. "I do not think that there will be fundamental change in the politics in Italy [in the long run], because there are just economic necessities that you have to follow."
He expressed concern about the high unemployment rates in Italy, Spain, and other countries to the south. "[But] I don't see any kind of fatigue on the northern side." That, Nowotny added, is a longer-term positive for European integration.
"We learned it the hard way," he continued, "that we all have to stick together at the Euro. So there have been last year discussions about a breakup of the Eurozone," he said. "[But] this is not relevant anymore."
As for the Bank of Japan actions keeping the yen lower against the euro, Nowotny said, "[It's] much overblown to speak of a currency war ... The Japanese central bank wants to avoid a deflationary development."
He also said the U.S. dollar-euro exchange rate is within the historical range. "There no need for intervention or nervousness."