At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.75%, 1.50% and 0.00% respectively.
Technical features of Outright Monetary Transactions
As announced on 2 August 2012, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) has today taken decisions on a number of technical features regarding the Eurosystem’s outright transactions in secondary sovereign bond markets that aim at safeguarding an appropriate monetary policy transmission and the singleness of the monetary policy. These will be known as Outright Monetary Transactions (OMTs) and will be conducted within the following framework:
A necessary condition for Outright Monetary Transactions is strict and effective conditionality attached to an appropriate European Financial Stability Facility/European Stability Mechanism (EFSF/ESM) programme. Such programmes can take the form of a full EFSF/ESM macroeconomic adjustment programme or a precautionary programme (Enhanced Conditions Credit Line), provided that they include the possibility of EFSF/ESM primary market purchases. The involvement of the IMF shall also be sought for the design of the country-specific conditionality and the monitoring of such a programme.
The Governing Council will consider Outright Monetary Transactions to the extent that they are warranted from a monetary policy perspective as long as programme conditionality is fully respected, and terminate them once their objectives are achieved or when there is non-compliance with the macroeconomic adjustment or precautionary programme.
Following a thorough assessment, the Governing Council will decide on the start, continuation and suspension of Outright Monetary Transactions in full discretion and acting in accordance with its monetary policy mandate.
Outright Monetary Transactions will be considered for future cases of EFSF/ESM macroeconomic adjustment programmes or precautionary programmes as specified above. They may also be considered for Member States currently under a macroeconomic adjustment programme when they will be regaining bond market access.
Transactions will be focused on the shorter part of the yield curve, and in particular on sovereign bonds with a maturity of between one and three years.
No ex ante quantitative limits are set on the size of Outright Monetary Transactions.
The Eurosystem intends to clarify in the legal act concerning Outright Monetary Transactions that it accepts the same (pari passu) treatment as private or other creditors with respect to bonds issued by euro area countries and purchased by the Eurosystem through Outright Monetary Transactions, in accordance with the terms of such bonds.
The liquidity created through Outright Monetary Transactions will be fully sterilised.
Aggregate Outright Monetary Transaction holdings and their market values will be published on a weekly basis. Publication of the average duration of Outright Monetary Transaction holdings and the breakdown by country will take place on a monthly basis.
Securities Markets Programme
Following today’s decision on Outright Monetary Transactions, the Securities Markets Programme (SMP) is herewith terminated. The liquidity injected through the SMP will continue to be absorbed as in the past, and the existing securities in the SMP portfolio will be held to maturity.
Measures to preserve collateral availability
On 6 September 2012 the Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) decided on additional measures to preserve collateral availability for counterparties in order to maintain their access to the Eurosystem’s liquidity-providing operations.
Change in eligibility for central government assets
The Governing Council of the ECB has decided to suspend the application of the minimum credit rating threshold in the collateral eligibility requirements for the purposes of the Eurosystem’s credit operations in the case of marketable debt instruments issued or guaranteed by the central government, and credit claims granted to or guaranteed by the central government, of countries that are eligible for Outright Monetary Transactions or are under an EU-IMF programme and comply with the attached conditionality as assessed by the Governing Council.
The suspension applies to all outstanding and new assets of the type described above.
The decision on the collateral eligibility of bonds issued or guaranteed by the Greek government taken by the Governing Council on 18 July 2012 is still applicable (Decision ECB/2012/14).
Expansion of the list of assets eligible to be used as collateral
The Governing Council of the ECB has also decided that marketable debt instruments denominated in currencies other than the euro, namely the US dollar, the pound sterling and the Japanese yen, and issued and held in the euro area, are eligible to be used as collateral in Eurosystem credit operations until further notice. This measure reintroduces a similar decision that was applicable between October 2008 and December 2010, with appropriate valuation markdowns.
These measures will come into force with the relevant legal acts.