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ECB launches 750 billion euro emergency bond purchase scheme

Updated: 2020-03-19 07:14
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A television broadcast showing Christine Lagarde, President of the European Central Bank (ECB), is pictured during a trading session at Frankfurt's stock exchange in Frankfurt, Germany, March 12, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

FRANKFURT -- The European Central Bank (ECB) on Wednesday announced a new temporary asset purchase program covering private and public sector securities that has an overall envelope of 750 billion euros to counter the novel coronavirus risks.

Purchases under this new Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP) will be conducted until the end of 2020 and will include all asset categories eligible under the existing asset purchase program, the ECB said in a statement following an emergency meeting of its Governing Council.

The program is aimed at countering "the serious risks to the monetary policy transmission mechanism and the outlook for the euro area posed by the outbreak and escalating diffusion of the coronavirus," the ECB said.

The Governing Council will terminate net asset purchases under PEPP once it judges that the coronavirus crisis phase is over, but in any case not before the end of the year, according to the ECB.

The ECB also said that the Governing Council will be fully prepared to increase the size of its asset purchase programs and adjust their composition "by as much as necessary and for as long as needed."

"To the extent that some self-imposed limits might hamper action that the ECB is required to take in order to fulfill its mandate, the Governing Council will consider revising them to the extent necessary to make its action proportionate to the risks that we face," it said.

The ECB stressed that it will do "everything necessary within its mandate" and "explore all options and all contingencies to support the economy through this shock."

Following a regular monetary policy meeting on Thursday, the ECB announced a policy package to support the eurozone economy amid coronavirus shocks, which includes a temporary envelope of net asset purchases of 120 billion euros on top of an existing monthly bond-buying scheme.

For the newly announced PEPP, securities issued by the Greek government, which have been previously shut out of the ECB bond-buying program due to Greece's low credit rating, will be eligible for purchase.

The ECB also said that it decided to expand the range of eligible assets under the corporate sector purchase program to include non-financial commercial paper.


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