ECB officials have tried to spread calming words across the globe as world asset markets are becoming increasingly focused on what its next move will be. David Tepper, a closely-watched U.S. hedge fund manager told an audience at SkyBridge Capital's SALT 2014 conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday that he has concerns about a deflationary environment and a European Central Bank that badly needs to ease monetary policy.
"The ECB—they better ease in June," Tepper said. "I don't know how far behind the curve, but I think they're really, really far behind the curve."
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ECB Vice President Vitor Constancio said Thursday that the central bank is ready to act if needed but said there were no distinct signs of deflation in the euro bloc. Expectations are growing that the ECB could act at its next Governing Council meeting in June. Among the policy actions available to the bank are a further cut to interest rates, some targeted measures aimed at boosting lending to small- and mid-sized firms or even a Federal Reserve-style quantitative easing program. For many market watchers, the fears are that low inflation could lead to stagnation over the longer term or even a fall into deflation - when consumer prices start to fall as consumers hold off purchases in the hope of further price drops.
Germany - which is traditionally seen as the most resistant to ultra-easy policy due to inflation fears - seems to have warmed slightly to the idea. Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said Wednesday evening that the German central bank is ready to back ECB policy action if needed, according to Reuters, but added that not every measure under discussion is suitable.