ECB Steps Up Government Bond Purchases to Fight Market Tensions

Monday, 27 Dec 2010 10:06 AM


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The European Central Bank increased its bond purchases last week as investors remained concerned about governments’ ability to push down budget deficits across the 16-member euro region.

The Frankfurt-based ECB said it completed 1.12 billion euros ($1.45 billion) of purchases after settling 603 million euros the previous week. It will take seven-day term deposits tomorrow to neutralize 73.5 billion euros of liquidity created by bond purchases since the program started on May 10.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet has said governments must step up efforts to stem contagion and restore confidence and described the bond program as “temporary.” The bank said on Dec. 2 that it will extend emergency liquidity measures for banks after Ireland’s aid package failed to convince investors about governments’ ability to push down budget deficits and prevent a breakup of the 16-member euro region.

The ECB only publishes the amount of bond purchases that settle each week and doesn’t disclose details. The so-called Securities Markets Program aims to smooth the functioning of some bond markets to improve monetary-policy transmission.

ECB council member Ewald Nowotny from Austria said on Dec. 10 that the bank’s unconventional measures “can’t become normality.” His Luxembourg colleague Yves Mersch said the same day that monetary policy “can’t be overburdened,” and “we can’t blur the line between monetary and fiscal policy.”

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