At today’s meeting, which was held in Naples, 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 0.05%, 0.30% and -0.20% respectively.
Introductory statement to the press conference
Mario Draghi, President of the ECB,
Naples, 2 October 2014
Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice-President and I are very pleased to welcome you to our press conference. I would like to thank Governor Visco for his kind hospitality and express our special gratitude to his staff for the excellent organisation of today’s meeting of the Governing Council. We will now report on the outcome of our meeting.
Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, and in line with our forward guidance, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. Following up on the decisions of 4 September 2014, we also decided on the key operational details of both the asset-backed securities purchase programme and the new covered bond purchase programme.
This will allow us to start purchasing covered bonds and asset-backed securities (ABSs) in the fourth quarter of 2014, starting with covered bonds in the second half of October. The programmes will last for at least two years. Together with the series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations to be conducted until June 2016, these purchases will have a sizeable impact on our balance sheet.
The new measures will support specific market segments that play a key role in the financing of the economy. They will thereby further enhance the functioning of the monetary policy transmission mechanism, facilitate credit provision to the broad economy and generate positive spillovers to other markets. Taking into account the overall subdued outlook for inflation, the weakening in the euro area’s growth momentum over the recent past and the continued subdued monetary and credit dynamics, our asset purchases should ease the monetary policy stance more broadly. They should also strengthen our forward guidance on the key ECB interest rates and reinforce the fact that there are significant and increasing differences in the monetary policy cycle between major advanced economies.
Together with the monetary accommodation already in place, the determined implementation of the new measures will underpin the firm anchoring of medium to long-term inflation expectations, in line with our aim of maintaining inflation rates below, but close to, 2%. As all our measures work their way through to the economy they will contribute to a return of inflation rates to levels closer to our aim. Should it become necessary to further address risks of too prolonged a period of low inflation, the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments within its mandate.
A separate press release will provide further information on the modalities of our new purchase programmes for ABSs and covered bonds. It will be released at 3.30 p.m.
Let me now explain our assessment in greater detail, starting with the economic analysis. Following four quarters of moderate expansion, euro area real GDP remained unchanged between the first and second quarter of this year. Survey data available up to September confirm the weakening in the euro area’s growth momentum, while remaining consistent with a modest economic expansion in the second half of the year. Looking ahead to 2015, the outlook for a moderate recovery in the euro area remains in place, but the main factors and assumptions shaping this assessment need to be monitored closely. Domestic demand should be supported by our monetary policy measures, the ongoing improvements in financial conditions, the progress made in fiscal consolidation and structural reforms, and lower energy prices supporting real disposable income. Furthermore, demand for exports should benefit from the global recovery. At the same time, the recovery is likely to continue to be dampened by high unemployment, sizeable unutilised capacity, continued negative bank loan growth to the private sector, and the necessary balance sheet adjustments in the public and private sectors.
The risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area remain on the downside. In particular, the recent weakening in the euro area’s growth momentum, alongside heightened geopolitical risks, could dampen confidence and, in particular, private investment. In addition, insufficient progress in structural reforms in euro area countries constitutes a key downward risk to the economic outlook.
According to Eurostat’s flash estimate, euro area annual HICP inflation was 0.3% in September 2014, after 0.4% in August. Compared with the previous month, this reflects a stronger decline in energy prices and somewhat lower price increases in most other components of the HICP. On the basis of current information, annual HICP inflation is expected to remain at low levels over the coming months, before increasing gradually during 2015 and 2016.
The Governing Council will continue to closely monitor the risks to the outlook for price developments over the medium term. In this context, we will focus in particular on the possible repercussions of dampened growth dynamics, geopolitical developments, exchange rate developments and the pass-through of our monetary policy measures.
Turning to the monetary analysis, data for August 2014 continue to point to subdued underlying growth in broad money (M3), with the annual growth rate increasing moderately to 2.0% in August, after 1.8% in July. Annual growth in M3 continues to be supported by its most liquid components, with the narrow monetary aggregate M1 growing at an annual rate of 5.8% in August.
The annual rate of change of loans to non-financial corporations (adjusted for loan sales and securitisation) remained negative at -2.0% in August, after -2.2% in the previous month. On average over recent months, net redemptions have moderated from the historically high levels recorded a year ago. Lending to non-financial corporations continues to reflect the lagged relationship with the business cycle, credit risk, credit supply factors and the ongoing adjustment of financial and non-financial sector balance sheets. The annual growth rate of loans to households (adjusted for loan sales and securitisation) was 0.5% in August, broadly unchanged since the beginning of 2013.
Against the background of weak credit growth, the ECB is now close to finalising the comprehensive assessment of banks’ balance sheets, which is of key importance to overcome credit supply constraints.
To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the signals coming from the monetary analysis confirms the recent decisions taken by the Governing Council to provide further monetary policy accommodation and to support lending to the real economy.
Monetary policy is focused on maintaining price stability over the medium term and its accommodative stance contributes to supporting economic activity. However, in order to strengthen investment activity, job creation and potential growth, other policy areas need to contribute decisively. In particular, the legislation and implementation of structural reforms clearly need to gain momentum in several countries. This applies to product and labour markets as well as to actions to improve the business environment for firms. As regards fiscal policies, euro area countries should not unravel the progress already made and should proceed in line with the rules of the Stability and Growth Pact. This should be reflected in the draft budgetary plans for 2015 that governments will now deliver, in which they will address the relevant country-specific recommendations. The Pact should remain the anchor for confidence in sustainable public finances, and the existing flexibility within the rules should allow governments to address the budgetary costs of major structural reforms, to support demand and to achieve a more growth-friendly composition of fiscal policies. A full and consistent implementation of the euro area’s existing fiscal and macroeconomic surveillance framework is key to bringing down high public debt ratios, to raising potential growth and to increasing the euro area’s resilience to shocks.
My first question would be, if you could give us some more details on the ABS purchase programme. What will be the size? How will it evolve, if the size of the purchase programme will be changing over time? And also what about the rating of the ABS you will buy, thinking specifically about those from Greece and Cyprus?
My second question will be on the exchange rate. The euro has depreciated in recent weeks. How do you evaluate this depreciation, and if you think this is a consequence of the ECB policies?
First of all, all the details, almost all the details of the programme, will come out in the press release at 3.30 p.m. Let me say, it’s hard to assess a figure, to give a figure on this programme as such, because there are several interactions between the ABS programme, the covered bond programme and the TLTRO programme. The overall impact of these three measures on our balance sheet size will be significant. And our balance sheet, as I think I said in the European Parliament, is expected to be steered towards the dimension, the size, it had at the beginning of 2012.
On the ratings, again the details will be in the press communiqué. But basically, we’ve been accepting ABS in our collateral for ten years, so it was quite natural to have as much similarity as possible with our collateral rules when we come to risk assessment. And that’s what’s happened basically, with a few adjustments that are inspired by simple considerations.
First of all, when we talk about an outright purchase, it’s kind of different than just lending against collateral, which is with you on a temporary basis. The second thing is that this programme, like the TLTROs, is oriented to boosting lending to SMEs, and that’s why the ABS that we are focusing on are ABS that are meant to be simple and transparent, namely that the content of these ABS ought to be loans and similar lending that is easy to read and price and interpret. While in our collateral rules, we are accepting also structured ABS, we will not orient our purchase programme towards that sort of ABS because it would not be in synch with our objective to boost lending to the real economy.
The third point is that we want to be as inclusive as possible. But with prudence, so that we have decided to include countries that have a rating below BBB-, like Greece and Cyprus, applying certain derogations, with two caveats. The first is that there is a series of measures that mitigate risk for the specific purchases that are to happen there, so that the assets bought there would be risk-equivalent to assets bought elsewhere, so for example, size-wise, type-wise. Then there is a second, I would say, caveat or prudence which is basically that the countries ought to have an ongoing programme with the EU. I think I gave you the broad lines of what we have decided really. Then the rest will be clearer in the press communiqué.
On the exchange rate I have said several times, it’s not a policy target for us. As far as the exchange rate communication is concerned, we’ll basically comply and adhere to the agreed terms of reference in the G20 communiqué on this issue. It’s however important for price stability and it’s important for growth, and to a great extent the behaviour we’ve seen is the outcome of the different economic situations, the difference in our business cycle between us and the rest, or most of the other jurisdictions, which in turn induces a difference and a diverging path in our monetary policies.
Your inflationary expectations have again gone down below 2% on the five year on five year. Do you regard inflationary expectations still anchored at this stage down below 2%, after briefly going up after your Jackson Hole speech?
The other question is that, given that the measures you’re proposing today, or the details of the measures you’re proposing, can only have an impact over a considerable period of time, if you’re considering measures of more immediate impact, such as the purchase of public sector government bonds? And did any board members propose that or suggest that at today’s meeting?
First of all the inflation expectations. Let me get this clear, because there has been a certain amount of misunderstanding in the last few weeks. We don’t use one single measure of inflationary expectations. We use a broad range of indicators, and our inflation expectations measures have gone down, especially on the short horizons, and are now around eight points below 2% on the five year on five year. So we look at that definitely with great attention.
I would say that the measures we’ve taken have been determined exactly because our medium-term outlook on inflation expectation has worsened and we see that the risks have increased. So we think, and we have said this many times, we think that to have a prolonged period of too low inflation is harmful for the economy and that’s why the actions we’ve taken since June onward are exactly meant to underpin our inflation expectations at 2% in the medium term.
There is no doubt that these measures, like the TLTROs and the ABS and the covered bond programme, will unfold over a certain horizon, and we have done a lot of things since June. We have done a lot of unprecedented things, if you think about it well. We lowered the interest rates and we went negative on the rate of the deposit facility. We launched this ABS programme, which is another unprecedented measure. We launched the third covered bond programme, with ambitions and objectives way higher than the first and the second covered bond programme. We launched the TLTROs, again unprecedented in its shape. So let’s see.
But certainly, having said that, I just said how closely we are watching inflation and inflation expectations in the medium term, and I can only reiterate that the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using other unconventional instruments if it were to judge that the risk of too low inflation for too prolonged a time were to deteriorate.
I have one question on the ECB’s balance sheet and then one question on the instruments still at your disposal. On the ECB balance sheet, you’ve said on several occasions you want to restore it to around the level it was at the beginning of 2012. If you could give markets a slightly more precise guidance on that, because in the first quarter of 2012, I believe it oscillated between €2.5 trillion and €3 trillion. Are we looking at the higher end of that or the lower end of that? That’s one question.
Secondly, you said yesterday that the monetary policy can only do so much in terms of reviving growth and confidence in the eurozone, and you’ve stressed in your introductory statement again today the importance of structural reforms, as you have done in the past, and also a respect for European budget rules. Does that mean that you are running out of instruments or that you won’t do more until the governments do more?
On the first question, I understand your desire to have very precise figures for everything. That makes life perhaps easier, but I have to say that I wouldn’t want to emphasise the balance sheet size per se. That’s very important, but it’s only an instrument. The ultimate and the only mandate that we have to comply with is to bring inflation back to a level that is close to but below 2%. I think that’s the ultimate yardstick by which we will measure the success of the present measures and any other measures that we may take in the future.
On the second point, the question is actually quite topical, I think, because there is no great bargain here. We do this, if you do that. We know that our measures are going to be more effective, or sometimes are effective only if other policies will be in place. Policies, and I’ve mentioned several times, policies on the demand side, because the more we are in this situation, the more we see that the cyclical component in our business cycle is important, and it’s not only structural. It is true that to a great extent, our problems are structural, and that’s why we need the second, other policy, which is the one of structural reforms, so demand policies and structural reforms. We know that, but we also know that we want to comply with our mandate, so there is no bargain here. Each actor has its role to perform.
Mr President, and Governor Visco as well, I have a question regarding the package of measures that have been launched by the ECB in June and are now taking place. First of all, there is the impression that such measures are predominantly addressed at the supply side and that in some way, the demand is still suffering. In other words, for instance why should companies borrow more in countries such as Italy, when they do not see such a significant improvement in demand and in growth, so isn’t there a risk that the ECB is actually pushing on a string?
Certainly that’s what a central bank can do, and that’s what we are doing, namely improving the funding conditions for the main intermediation channel we have in this part of the world, namely the bank lending channel. As you know, it intermediates about 80% of credit flows. That’s certainly our task, and we’ve been doing a lot. We have done a lot. Just go back with your memory to the last three years, and even four or five years. We’ve done really a lot to improve the funding conditions, and now of course we are waiting, and we’ve seen some of it. We’ve seen that some of this is being passed very, painfully, slowly to the real economy, but certainly other measures are needed.
I have given the example several times of someone, a young entrepreneur, having to wait 9 months, 12 months, to have the authorisations and the permits to open a new shop, and then, by the time he gets these authorisations, he’s being overburdened by taxation of different kinds. You wouldn’t expect him to apply for credit, and that’s where the example tells that we need structural reforms as well.
And finally, on the demand side, our rules are pretty clear. Countries that don’t have fiscal space can still have fiscal space within the existing rules, and we can dwell on that later on. They can also enforce what we’ve called growth-friendly fiscal consolidation, based on cuts in expenditures, cuts in taxes, increasing capital expenditures and so on. And countries that do have fiscal space should use the fiscal space they have, so I think this three-pronged programme, without implying any, as I said a minute ago, any great bargain, should be in place.
I just wanted to first of all press you a little more on this question on the exchange rate. You have commented before on the fundamentals for a weaker exchange rate changing compared to previous months or weeks. You do say in the opening statement that your policy should reinforce the fact that there are significant and increasing differences in monetary policy. Doesn’t it stand to reason that these fundamentals for a weaker exchange rate are still valid in your opinion, despite even in the light of the recent weakening that we have seen?
My second question is just maybe a bigger-picture one on low inflation. With a lot of people in Europe, families in Europe, struggling, how can you tell them or explain to them that paying more at the gas station, or the grocery store, or the clothing store, is ultimately in their interests, that higher inflation is good for them?
You’re trying to kind of extort from me a level of the exchange rate, and unfortunately, I’m not in a position to accommodate your question there. As I said, the exchange rate is not a policy target, so we don’t have a target other than, we watch what happens in the markets as a result of our monetary policy decisions, which are taken with the primary and exclusive view of re-establishing price stability, bringing the inflation rate close to but below 2%.
The second point is a good question. By the way, we had a recent drop in oil prices by largely 6% at least in dollar prices, and that on the one hand should support real incomes. At the same time, we’re having a very significant slack in the labour market, which shows some marginal signs of stabilisation, but from a level of slack which is still very significant. We have wide margins of unutilised capacity and so on, so the economy is still fundamentally weak. I’ve said many times, the recovery is weak, fragile, uneven, and still is, so the hope is that when we see some price pressure, some price power, back in the economy, at the same time we would also like to see some strengthening in the economy. That would be the objective, and in a sense, the first should ideally be the outcome of the second, and on this is partly predicated our conviction that in the medium term, inflation will go back to 2%, as the economy will strengthen.
Mr President, Governor Visco, can TLTRO be used to allow firms to anticipate part of TFL for employees?
Ignazio Visco: TLTRO has a clear objective, to increase lending to small and medium enterprises. If that opens a way for small and medium enterprises to do more lending, then obviously there is nothing against that, but in any case, banks are free to do what they like, what I think is more important for them and also for the economy that they serve, and TLTROs are there to be judged against the increase of lending vis-a-vis the reference path.
Mr President, I have two questions. One on your answer that also countries who do have an ongoing programme with the EU are eligible for ABS purchases. So what about Greece? It’s formally ending at the end of 2014, with the EU, but it’s ongoing with the IMF. Is that also eligible, or does Greece need another programme?
The second question would be on, what are you making of the recent advent or rise of euroscepticism in the eurozone’s biggest economy, Germany? It seems that it’s sort of an equation; the more you venture into unconventional territory, the more euroscepticism is on the rise in Germany.
Let me just add one comment to what Governor Visco’s just said. The TLTROs are exactly devised to make sure the banks lend what they borrow from the ECB. If they don’t lend, they will have to repay everything. That’s important to remember because that’s what makes these things different from the previous operations.
On Greece, yes. There must be a programme there and the specific shape of the programme you’ll see in the press release attached but there must be a programme. No programme, no purchases. That’s what you’ll find in the press communiqué which comes out at 3.30 p.m., a precise definition of what we mean by that.
On the euroscepticism, it’s very understandable that people are eurosceptical, because things are not going well in opposite directions. In this part of the world, things are not going well because you have pervasive unemployment and you have very low, weak economic activity, and in some countries with a recession that seems to never end, so you can’t expect people being enthusiastic about that. In the other parts of Europe, you have this, because they feel like people are paying for everybody else, and that’s also a reason for not being happy. Having said that, I don’t think the euro is a solution to the problems. The countries that need to do structural reforms would have to do it anyway, whether they are in the euro or outside the euro. The countries that need to consolidate their public finances would have to do it anyway, and one could even argue that some forms of fiscal consolidation, some forms of structural reforms, would even be more difficult and more costly outside, but this has been a counterfactual. I wouldn’t insist too much on that. So this idea is understandable but I don’t think it’s right, and I will only repeat, the euro is irreversible.
I would like to go back to the balance sheet. The early 2012 level, is that merely an expectation of the effect of current measures, or is it more of a target, so that banks that show very limited interest in the second TLTRO might actually go ahead and purchase assets more aggressively than you are planning currently?
And my second question is related to whether it is more of a target, or even just a rough aim, by what time would you like to get there? And for how long would you like to maintain that level?
Again, what I can say is that we’ve decided a massive amount of measures now. We haven’t seen yet their impact in the economy. So we expect these measures to steer our balance sheet towards that time. But don’t forget that our ultimate test is inflation expectations, and that we are going to gear our action according to how the medium-term outlook of our inflation expectations will develop in the coming months, not coming years, coming months. So we do expect that our measures will have a sizeable impact. That’s quite understandable that we expect that.
And on the second question: Well as I said, the answer to the first is also the answer to the second. We simply had to look at our medium-term inflation expectations outlook, and then we will decide. And we’ll have to see what impact these measures are having.
I’ve said one more thing, the potential universe that these two programmes will address – the covered bond purchase and the ABS purchase programme – the potential universe is up to €1 trillion. That doesn’t mean, of course, that we will go into that amount. It will mean that that’s the potential universe to which our purchases will be addressed. On top of this we’ll be having the impact of the TLTROs. So I think the groundwork for having a sizeable impact is there. We do expect this to have an impact on our ultimate yardstick, which is the inflation expectation in the medium term.
And having said that, I would reiterate saying that the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to use other unconventional instruments. You see this sentence is repeated introductory statement after introductory statement each and every time. This means that, in spite of the measures that we’ve just taken between June and September, the Governing Council still stands ready to undertake other measures if needed.
Yesterday France decided not to respect the deficit limit. And rightly this morning the Italian Prime Minister defended their choice and actually added that nobody could treat their partner as a pupil. So what is going on? What’s your opinion? Does it change the situation in the European monetary system?
Well first, let me say that the euro area member states, I’m pretty sure euro area member states, the Commission, the ECB, all of us have an enormous interest in having France return to growth and lower unemployment. We should start from this point.
Second point is that we do trust the government to take all the necessary actions on the structural reform ground, starting with a forceful implementation of the Responsibility Pact, but also with a forceful implementation of other reforms. Here I had the chance to say not long ago with a French channel that these reforms have been started and designed for a long time. Now it’s implementation time, and that’s where the focus should be.
On the specific fiscal issues, let me read the policy guidance that the European Council – you know the European Council is formed by all our leaders, so including the French leaders – the policy guidance that the European Council adopted in July by recommending to France to, first, reinforce the budgetary strategy for the year 2014 and beyond. Second, achieving the structural adjustment effort specified in the Council recommendation under the Excessive Deficit Procedure. And third, ensure the correction of the excessive deficit in a sustainable manner by 2015.
Now having said that, we will have a full discussion of this, the first full discussion of this, when the French government presents the draft budget in October – I think in a couple of weeks, or in a week’s time – and then we will have this discussion in November, early November. So it’s too early to elaborate any further.
For my first question, how concerned is the ECB about the recent fall in core inflation and also reports from the manufacturing PMI yesterday that businesses are cutting prices across the region?
Secondly, there have been some protests on the streets of Naples today. I was wondering if you have message at all for the protests which seem to be centred around complaints over European institutions and austerity.
You’re right to point out, as a meaningful figure that’s just come out, the fall in core inflation. Because as a matter of fact we’ve observed certainly a drop, a quite significant drop, in energy prices, but also in several other components of the HICP. So that’s certainly something that we are looking at, and as I think I said indeed in the introductory statement, we are closely monitoring these developments.
But there is one thing to say basically, that for quite a prolonged period of time the drop in oil, and more generally energy, prices and the drop in food prices was the most significant explanation, for the low inflation. Then once the dollar prices of these two categories pretty much stabilised, it was the strong appreciation of the exchange rate which continued to have an impact on low inflation.
More recently we see that the forecast error that’s been made in forecasting inflation cannot be attributed only to the assumptions on oil prices, food prices and the exchange rate. But there is also another component, which certainly contains unemployment, certainly contains the weak level of aggregate demand. And basically says that the longer we stay in a low inflation situation the more this cyclical component gains importance and contributes to inflation. I think this is one way we look at these new data. And so it produces falling prices in components other than energy and food.
The second question is, while I think we have understanding for the reasons that are behind these protests and we understand the reasons, and frankly have to do with what I said before, namely the weak situation of this country, the weak economy and so on. But what I find in need to be corrected is the perception that the ECB is somehow guilty and is at the origin of this situation. Simply what is needed is to go back and ask yourself how you were two and half a years ago, three years ago. What was the situation? The financial system seemed to be on the verge of collapse. Interest rates were several hundred basis points higher than they are today.
The ECB has first of all lowered interest rates so much that now we are close to zero and we can’t go down any longer. And as I said no other greater central bank is now having banks paying to deposit money with the central bank. Second, we have injected unprecedented amounts of liquidity in the system. Third, we just approved now another series of measures. Fourth, we have successfully fought a crisis of systemic proportions in 2012, which actually led to lowering all the interest rates on various components. So I find the description of the ECB as the guilty actor here in need to be corrected.
Do you want to add anything?
Ignazio Visco: No I think it’s correct. This is exactly what I think. These protests cannot be against monetary policy. Monetary policy has been clearly as easy as possible and will continue to be until the objectives are reached. But it is against the state of the economy which has a number of causes. To identify the causes is complicated. To identify the answers is complicated. And usually this is a response that identifies the central bank with the banks and it is needed to be corrected. It identifies the ECB monetary policy with the decisions of the Troika. But the Troika does not make decisions. Troika somehow is surveyor of decisions taken by the governments. So it is an issue of politics; it’s not an issue of monetary policy.
Yesterday night Mr Visco said that the choice of Naples represents a way to remind us that, as Naples is a melting pot of different historical experiences, so is Europe. Does monetary policy today take into account the dualism of European economy and how? And I would like to address the same question to Mr Draghi.
Ignazio Visco: Well first of all Naples was chosen as the third Italian city where the ECB Governing Council meets. One was in the North it was Venice the other was in the centre is Rome. The third is Naples. These are three very important cities in the history of Europe, not only the history of Italy.
Then the question, substantial questions, is when one takes monetary policy decisions does it imply that a particular situation is considered or not. There are two answers. The first, all situations are considered. The second, we take decisions looking at the area as a whole. So clearly it is very important what happens in particular regions as a whole, and we have to take that into consideration. But clearly monetary policy is not selective. It does not address a particular development issue in a particular region, or a particular circumstance which really is local rather than affecting the whole economy of the euro area.
Thank you for taking a question in Italian. It’s on behalf of Italian TV viewers. What can monetary policy do in order to support the real economy?
Monetary policy in the last four or five years was very, very active. It supported the real economy. It improved the financial conditions of banks, so as to make it possible for banks to loan money to the real economy. Up to 2012 interest rates were far higher than they are today. We brought interest rates down to zero virtually. And at this point in time it is necessary for banks to transfer these conditions to companies and entrepreneurs and households.
Therefore, monetary policy can improve conditions for the financing of economy, but other conditions must exist so that people go to the bank and borrow money. They have to be confident in the future. Confidence in the future is a precondition for new investments, new companies and for borrowing from banks. The general conditions must change: less taxes, more reforms, certainty about public finance orientations. And I’m saying this not because I’m thinking of Italy alone; I’ve been saying these things for the whole of Europe.
The measures we discussed today already impacted the situation. They brought interest rates even lower. They affected the exchange rate market. Therefore, the great uncertainty that affected financial markets in the past has virtually disappeared. But uncertainty disappeared on the financial markets, not in the world of the real economy, and that’s where we need to make steps forward.
Ignazio Visco: I repeat what I said earlier in English. Our monetary policies accompanied the growth of problems all over the area, but it also helped reduce the constraints on the supply of credit. There are other conditions however which require an overall action, because only in these conditions can you think of investing money. But our monetary policy has strongly supported the economy with a reduction of the strong risk which characterised the euro area as a whole, and Italy in particular, linked as it was to the euro and the crisis of sovereign debt of 2011-2013.
ECB announces operational details of asset-backed securities and covered bond purchase programmes
- Programmes will last at least two years
- Will enhance transmission of monetary policy, support provision of credit to the euro area economy and, as a result, provide further monetary policy accommodation
- Eurosystem collateral framework is guiding principle for eligibility of assets for purchase
- Asset purchases to start in fourth quarter 2014, starting with covered bonds in second-half of October
The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) today agreed key details regarding the operation of its new programmes to buy simple and transparent asset-backed securities (ABSs) and a broad portfolio of euro-denominated covered bonds. Together with the targeted longer-term refinancing operations, the purchase programmes will further enhance the transmission of monetary policy. They will facilitate credit provision to the euro area economy, generate positive spill-overs to other markets and, as a result, ease the ECB’s monetary policy stance. These measures will have a sizeable impact on the Eurosystem’s balance sheet and will contribute to a return of inflation rates to levels closer to 2%.
The Eurosystem’s collateral framework – the rules that lay out which assets are acceptable as collateral for monetary policy credit operations – will be the guiding principle for deciding the eligibility of assets to be bought under the ABS purchase programme (ABSPP) and covered bond purchase programme (CBPP3). There will be some adjustments to take into account the difference between accepting assets as collateral and buying assets outright. To ensure that the programmes can include the whole euro area, ABSs and covered bonds from Greece and Cyprus that are currently not eligible as collateral for monetary policy operations will be subject to specific rules with risk-mitigating measures.
The two programmes will last for at least two years and are likely to have a stimulating effect on issuance. Asset purchases will commence in the fourth quarter of 2014, starting with covered bonds in the second half of October. The ABSPP will start after external service providers have been selected, following an ongoing procurement process.
Further technical details on the ABSPP are provided in Annex 1 of this press release and on CBPP3 in Annex 2.
For media inquiries, please contact Stefan Ruhkamp on +49 69 1344 5057.