Printing money not the way out of crisis: ECB's Weidmann

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FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Printing money is not the way out of the euro zone crisis, European Central Bank policymaker Jens Weidmann said, resisting the possibility raised by others at the ECB of buying assets to aid a weak recovery. The ECB cut interest rates to a record low earlier this month but policymakers have begun discussing buying assets - or quantitative easing (QE) - as another way to support the economy after euro zone inflation slowed sharply in October. Last week, ECB Executive Board member Peter Praet raised the prospect of the euro zone's central bank starting to buy assets to bring inflation closer to its target of just under 2 percent. Inflation fell to 0.7 percent in October. ECB Vice-President Vitor Constancio said on Tuesday the bank had discussed the possibility of QE but no technical planning work had taken place, although he added that "everything is possible". Weidmann, chief of Germany's Bundesbank and leader of the hawkish camp of policymakers on the ECB's Governing Council, pushed back against the idea. "We have lowered interest rates and are offering banks unlimited liquidity. But there are no easy and quick ways out of this crisis," he told German weekly Die Zeit in an interview to be published on Thursday. "The money printer is definitely not the way to solve it. It will still take years until the causes of the crisis are eliminated." The ECB said after its November 7 rate cut that it could lower borrowing costs further still. Weidmann said it was too soon to signal any further easing. "The Council has only just eased monetary policy further, so I do not think it is sensible to immediately herald the start of the next round," he said. "Technically we are definitely not at the end of our possibilities. But the question is: what is sensible? The debate about further measures leads away from the real causes of the crisis." The euro zone's prolonged crisis was rooted in a lack of competitiveness in some member countries, high government debt and troubled banking systems, he told the paper. "Only politics can solve these problems, the central bank cannot," Weidmann said. (Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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