Thursday 30 October 2014

Super Mario to the rescue with €40bn bid to revive eurozone

Published 04/09/2014 | 02:30

JP Morgan said the ECB was now preparing to buy the huge bonds - which are backed up by corporate loans, credit card debts and the like.

Economist with Goodbody Stockbrokers Dermot O'Leary said the central bank is also set to outline more details on the plan to give European banks funds - with targets for that money to be loaned out to small and medium-sized firms.

But some economists said there was unlikely to be any other major new stimulus package announced by the ECB. They said the central bank would stop short of a concerted effort to print money, although the €40bn plan would have a similar effect of prompting inflation.

And one top ECB official was yesterday dampening down expectations of a major economic stimulus plan.

ECB executive board member Sabine Lautenschlaeger told a banking congress in Frankfurt that financial market expectations were "one-sided" and EU governments should focus on structural reforms instead.

Some analysts also expect the ECB to cut its key interest rates, which are already at record lows since June, when the ECB's main lending rate came down to 0.15pc.

This saw around 375,000 tracker mortgage holders here paying less. A family with a €200,000 mortgage saw their repayments fall by about €10 a month, or €125 over a year.

But Goodbody's said a new lower rate is unlikely.

Pressure is mounting on Mr Draghi to step up action to deal with the fact that the French economy is not growing and the Italian economy is contracting. Inflation in the 18-member zone is just 0.3pc, below the ECB's target of 2pc.

And new figures yesterday showed eurozone businesses grew at the slowest pace this year in August as escalating tension between Russia and Ukraine subdued spending and investment.

Mr Draghi spoke in the US last month about doing more to stimulate growth.

Several banks, including Nomura and JP Morgan, have said they expect the ECB to take action at today's meeting, possibly even announcing a broad-based asset purchase programme known as quantitative easing, to help bring inflation back up to target.

The ECB has hired US investment giant BlackRock to provide advice as it thrashes out the final design of its plan.

The euro has weakened since Mr Draghi dropped a heavy hint last month at Jackson Hole in the US that he was prepared to print money and support relaxing fiscal policy to avoid deflation and another recession in the region.

He said the ECB is "ready to adjust its policy stance" and "will use all available instruments needed to ensure price stability over the medium term".

Meanwhile, business lobby group IBEC welcomed Ireland's improved position in the World Economic Forum's latest Global Competitiveness Report.

Ireland has moved up three places to 25th position since the last survey.

However, the report highlighted some key areas where Ireland needs to raise its game, IBEC said. It said income taxes were too high.

Irish Independent

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