PRESS RELEASE

Publication of a report on differences in MFI interest rates across euro area countries

20 September 2006

The European Central Bank (ECB) today publishes a report entitled “Differences in MFI interest rates across euro area countries”. This publication has been prepared by a group of experts at the ECB and at national central banks under the joint mandate of the Monetary Policy Committee and the Statistics Committee.

The report presents the first comprehensive assessment of cross-country differences in various types of deposit and lending interest rates that are offered and charged by euro area monetary financial institutions (MFIs) to households and non-financial corporations. Despite the remarkable convergence that has taken place in the euro area in recent years, similar types of interest rate still vary considerably across countries. Several factors, in many cases operating simultaneously, contribute to this dispersion. One factor may be remaining product heterogeneity, which may reflect differences in national commercial conventions and practices, as well as in regulatory and fiscal arrangements. Other factors such as differences in credit risk (including differences in collateral practices) and market structure may also contribute. At the current juncture it is not possible to disentangle the effects of all these factors.

By making available detailed and comprehensive information on average MFI interest rates, the report released today aims to ensure that comparisons across countries are made on a well-informed basis. The ECB and national central banks will soon also start releasing common tables which will give a regular overview of 15 types of average deposit and lending interest rates in each euro area country.

The report can be downloaded from the “Publications” section of the ECB’s website (http://www.ecb.europa.eu/pub). Printed copies are also available free of charge from the ECB’s Press and Information Division at the address given below. Once available, the tables containing country-by-country MFI interest rates will become part of the “Statistics” section of the ECB’s website (http://www.ecb.europa.eu/stats).

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