The European Central Bank today extended its bond-buying program to the end of 2017 but cut the monthly purchases to 60 billion euros from 80 billion euros. That would take the total for this quantitative-easing effort to 2.2 billion euros ($2.4 billion.) That will bring the total for this round of quantitative easing to about double the estimated size of the program at its inception in January 2015.
And in the post-meeting press conference bank president Mario Draghi said that the program will go on…and on…and on, if growth doesn’t pick up in the EuroZone and inflation doesn’t come closer to the bank’s target of 2%. (Reminds me of slogan that has the despot naval captain saying: Flogging will continue until morale improves.)
“The presence of the ECB on markets will be there for a long time,” Draghi said. Quantitative easing is “in a sense open-ended, it’s state-contingent,” he added. And then he noted that economic projections by central bank staff showing EuroZone inflation averaging 1.7% in 2019 were “not really” close to the central bank’s goal of just under 2%.
Please note the date in those projections. The bank staff is projecting that inflation will climb to 1.7% in 2019–but Draghi is saying that 1.7% inflation doesn’t meet the bank’s target.
Don’t know about you but I read this as saying that the bank will still be in the quantitative-easing business in 2019.
The euro fell 1.28% on the news (as of 11:55 a.m New York time) to $1.0623. The currency closed at $1.0753 yesterday. The Bloomberg Dollar Spot Index was up 0.7%
It’s not clear to me why the European Central Bank thinks more quantitative easing will do the job that 1.7 billion euros hasn’t accomplished. But I suspect that it has something to do with the bank’s fear that if it doesn’t keep pumping money into the EuroZone economy ahead of the 2017 elections in France, Germany, and (now it looks like) Italy, something really bad will happen. (Beyond Brexit, I mean.)