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ECB Bans Media From 'Behind-Closed-Doors' Speech To Hedge Fund Managers

Fool me once, shame on me; fool me twice, shame on you; fool me a third time, you must think we are all just idiots!! Following The ECB's Benoit Coeure "internal procedure error" where he leaked the imminent actions of the central bank to a group of well-heeled hedge fund managers - who proceeded to dump EURUSD ahead of the announcement, The ECB has decided - in all its arrogant wisdom - to decamp to Luxembourg to speak, once again, to participants in the world of high finance behind closed doors. The media aren’t invited (though the ECB will publish some prepared remarks from the board members.).

 

As we detailed previously, back in May, Mr. Coeuré gave a dinner speech to an audience that included hedge fund managers and other investors in London in which he said that the ECB would front-load its bond purchases in its QE program before the summer lull. The problem was that his comments weren’t published until the following morning. Once they hit newswires, the euro fell and stocks rose. (as WSJ details)

The failure of the central bank to publish the remarks in a timely manner raised suspicions that hedge-fund managers could have gotten an inside advantage on making trades, since they heard the comments from Mr. Coeuré before the rest of the world. The ECB attributed the incident to an “internal procedural error.”

 

 

 

The incident also sparked a response from the European Ombudsman, who investigates complaints from citizens, businesses and organizations concerning problems with the administration at European Union institutions or possible breaches of EU rules.

 

ECB President Mario Draghi defended Mr. Coeuré in a written response, saying that the information Mr. Coeuré shared in his speech was already visible in the markets.

 

In his response, Mr. Draghi also defended the practice of ECB board members speaking at nonpublic events, but he assured that “by no means do the members of the Executive Board use or intend to use nonpublic events to disclose any market sensitive or confidential information.”

But so what? As The Wall Street Journal reports, it appears The ECB cares not a jot for the appearance of preferential insider trading information...

The participation of ECB members at the Eurofi conference in Luxembourg, which takes place ahead of a meeting of European finance ministers in the Grand Duchy, comes just months after a controversy involving an ECB Board member speaking at a private event to hedge-fund managers and other investors, which put the ECB’s policies on communication and transparency under scrutiny.

 

According to the ECB’s website, Executive Board members Peter Praet, Yves Mersch, and Benoît Coeuré are all speaking at the Luxembourg conference, which runs Sept. 9-11 in Luxembourg. The event is closed to the press, though the ECB will publish some prepared remarks from the board members.

 

In an email to The Wall Street Journal, an ECB spokesman said, “We’re still reviewing our policy, which will be completed soon. In any case, we will make texts available where appropriate,” he said.

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Funnier still is that...

Last month Mr. Coeure told a German newspaper that a conclusion he had reached from the controversy in May was that he would no longer speak at events organized by banks.

Nothing to see here, move along. We are just left wondering what piece of market-moving confidential information will The ECB leak to their hedge fund buddies this time?