Central Banks

France's finance minister says he's glad that Donald Trump isn't a member of the ECB's board

Key Points
  • Trump said earlier this month: "Give me some of that money. I want some of that money," referring to negative rates.
  • The euro zone is divided over the application of negative interest rates — an unconventional monetary policy tool that aims to boost spending rather than saving.
  • There's a growing debate in Europe over the efficiency of negative rates as a monetary policy tool.
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Euro zone needs a stronger level of growth, France's Le Maire says

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire voiced his appreciation that ultra-dovish views, like those expressed by President Donald Trump, weren't currently being represented on the board of the European Central Bank (ECB).

Asked about negative interest rates in the region, and Trump's vehement pleas for the central bank policy, Le Maire told CNBC's Karen Tso: "It's better that Donald Trump is not a member of the board of the ECB, I am not sure it would be the best situation for the ECB."

His comments Wednesday come as Trump voices support for significant policy easing in the U.S., calling on the Federal Reserve to do more. The Fed has cut its main benchmark rate three times this year, but it's still in positive territory.

"We are actively competing with nations who openly cut interest rates so that now many are actually getting paid when they pay off their loan, known as negative interest," Trump said earlier this month. "Whoever heard of such a thing?"

"Give me some of that," he said. "Give me some of that money. I want some of that money."

The 19-member euro zone is divided over the application of negative interest rates — an unconventional monetary policy tool that aims to boost spending rather than saving. The ECB announced its first cut to a negative rate in 2014 and it hasn't brought it back into positive territory since. As a result, there's a growing debate in Europe over the efficiency of such a monetary policy tool. It effectively charges banks who park cash at the ECB which can dent their profits, but it also means governments receive extra when they borrow money.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Christine Lagarde (L) and French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire chat as they sit for the family picture of the G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, in Buenos Aires, on March 19, 2018.
EITAN ABRAMOVICH | AFP | Getty Images

Speaking at the Women's Forum in Paris, Le Maire told CNBC that the euro zone should now focus on fiscal stimulus, rather than lowering interest rates further.

"We must be aware that we are at the end of the efficiency of the monetary policy," he said.

"We need more fiscal stimulus if we want to have the necessary funding for innovation, for new technologies for infrastructures. We need now, right now, to have fiscal stimulus by all the countries which do have the necessary fiscal space. I mean Germany, the Netherlands, many European countries do have the fiscal space to invest more," he said.

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There's growing pressure on certain euro countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, to open their coffers to invest more and thus support economic growth in their countries as well as across the euro zone. However, these countries that are deemed to have the fiscal capacity to spend more are reluctant to do so as they do not want to increase their debt levels.

The 19-member region has struggled to grow since the sovereign debt crisis of 2011 and it has over the last year faced external challenges, such as the U.S.-China trade war and the U.K.'s departure from the EU.