19 Jan 2015

Time for the ECB to bite the bullet

Stefano Micossi

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This Commentary summarises the main reasons why the ECB can no longer delay launching a massive bond-buying programme, also including sovereigns of eurozone member countries, and why such interventions will indeed be effective in raising inflation, thus restoring the ECB’s credibility and spurring economic activity. A credible programme must continue either until an explicit inflation target has been achieved or the ECB balance sheet has reached the €2 trillion target already announced by the ECB’s Governing Council. Regardless of how such interventions will be undertaken, they will reduce interest-rate spreads between eurozone markets, but it is nevertheless important that the ECB designs its operations so as to avoid any implication of direct support or deficit financing facilitation for the eurozone’s most indebted countries. Finally, some kind of guarantee against first losses by the ECB on its sovereign bonds may be appropriate, while entrusting open market operations to each national central bank for their own sovereigns could threaten the very survival of monetary union.    

Stefano Micossi is Director General of Assonime, visiting professor at the College of Europe and a member of the CEPS Board of Directors.