In recent months, the ECB has taken several steps to revitalise credit. In June, it decided to offer banks targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTROs), and in September, it announced its intention to buy large (as yet unspecified) amounts of asset-backed securities (ABS), also with the aim of improving the financing conditions for investment, especially for small and medium enterprises (SMEs). However, this focus on bank balance sheets as an inhibitor of lending might be misplaced. Surveys indicate that lending is falling at present because demand for credit is very weak, while the supply constraints from the side of the banks are disappearing. This is definitely the case for the core countries and increasingly so for those in the periphery (whose share in lending is still higher than at the start of EMU).
Daniel Gros is Director of CEPS; Cinzia Alcidi is LUISS Research Fellow at CEPS and Alessandro Giovannini is a Researcher at CEPS.
This report was commissioned by the European Parliament’s Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs and can also be accessed on its website.