The Economy

European Central Bank Aims to Kickstart Inflation

The ECB's bond buying program starts on March 9, but ECB economists have already raised growth forecasts for the euro zone.
Katie Kuehner-HebertMarch 5, 2015
European Central Bank Aims to Kickstart Inflation

The European Central Bank will start its quantitative easing program next Monday.

In an introductory statement to a press conference, ECB President Mario Draghi said the central bank on March 9 would start purchasing euro-denominated public-sector securities in the secondary market. The ECB would also continue purchasing asset-backed securities and covered bonds, which the central bank started last year.

Just the decision to conduct the program, however, has helped the euro zone’s economy, Draghi said.

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“We have already seen a significant number of positive effects from these monetary policy decisions,” Draghi said in the prepared statement. “Financial market conditions and the cost of external finance for the private economy have eased further, also following our previous monetary policy measures. In particular, borrowing conditions for firms and households have improved considerably. Moreover, money and credit dynamics have been firming.”

The ECB revised its economic growth forecasts upward. It now expects annual real GDP to increase by 1.5% in 2015, 1.9% in 2016, and 2.1% in 2017. The new forecasts reflect “the favorable impact of lower oil prices, the weaker effective exchange rate of the euro, and the impact of the ECB’s recent monetary policy measures,” Draghi said.

The combined monthly purchases of public and private sector securities would amount to about €60 billion. The QE program would likely last through September 2016, or until inflation rates are below or close to 2% over the medium term.

The ECB’s economists project the inflation rate will rise to 1.5% in 2016 and 1.8% in 2017.

A Reuters article Thursday said the ECB “has a long way to go to convince markets its plans will be effective.”

“Only half of the economists polled by Reuters think bond buying will help inflation rise toward the target of close to, but below, two percent and half think the purchases will be extended,” according to Reuters.

The news service also wrote that the ECB was “keen” not to get involved in the political fracas over Greece’s future, but that in the press conference, Draghi “signaled” that the central bank would not accept the new Athens government’s plea for more short-term debt to get it over acute funding problems.

However, Draghi said the ECB had raised the amount of emergency lending assistance that the Greek central bank could provide to its banks, Reuters wrote.