THE president of the European Central Bank(ECB) has offered little respite for over four-million households in Spain that are struggling to pay their variable-rate mortgages.

Speaking to Antena 3 on Thursday, Christine Lagarde said that interest rates will continue to rise this year and that they will then be at a high level for a while, until inflation falls.

She offered no hope either of a return to 0% or even negative interest rate figures seen between 2014 and 2021

“Interest rates will not return to where they were two, three or four years ago as the situation has changed,” Lagarde said.

The ECB head said she will be guided by inflation rates and projections prepared by her economic experts.

Interest rates are expected to rise by half a point to 3.5% later this year.

While Lagarde would not say how long interest rate hikes will continue, she did see an end to high inflation which would mean interest rates hitting her 2% target by 2025.

“I am sure we will succeed,” she added.

“Interest rates won’t be high forever, as once inflation stabilises, rates will come down.”

Lagarde also criticised the VAT cut on some foods introduced by the Spanish government aimed at reducing inflation.

She said a targeted approach aimed at lower income groups was preferable.

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