Tuesday 18 December 2018

ECB board split on best way to exit quantitative easing

European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany
European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany

Balazs Koranyi

European Central Bank policymakers broadly agreed last month on extending their asset purchase scheme but a decision to keep the bond buys open-ended appeared to generate fiercer debate, minutes of the meeting released on Thursday showed.

The ECB opted last month to halve its asset purchases while extending them by nine months, hoping that gentler, though longer, stimulus would still keep growth strong enough to generate inflation.

But minutes of the debate at the October 26 policy meeting suggest policymakers were split, with some keen to signal a clear end to the ECB's lavish asset purchases and others arguing for a change in emphasis as a precursor to their eventual end. The eurozone's central bank already has over €2.2trn of assets on its balance sheet.

The nine-month extension of the scheme at €30bn a month enjoyed broad support, but policymakers discussed a range of alternatives, debated an eventual change in the bank's guidance, and agreed that other components of central bank stimulus should also be highlighted, the minutes showed.

In a further sign of diverging views, some policymakers argued that the ECB should stop linking its asset buys to the path of inflation and should instead reference to its overall monetary policy stance. (Reuters)

Irish Independent

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