ECB Keeps QE, Rates Unchanged

In a statement that was largely as expected, and devoid of surprises, the ECB kept both rates and its €1.35 trillion-euro Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program unchanged. The central bank reiterated it’ll conduct PEPP purchases in a "flexible manner" until at least June 2021, reinvest maturing bonds until at least the end of 2022. The ECB also said it will buy €20BN per month, plus €120BN this year under asset purchase program, which will run until shortly before interest rates rise.

In keeping key interest rates unchanged at present levels, the ECB also said rates will stay at present or lower levels until inflation goal is near.

The full statement is below:

At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB took the following monetary policy decisions:

(1) The interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.50% respectively. The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it has seen the inflation outlook robustly converge to a level sufficiently close to, but below, 2% within its projection horizon, and such convergence has been consistently reflected in underlying inflation dynamics.

(2) The Governing Council will continue its purchases under the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) with a total envelope of €1,350 billion. These purchases contribute to easing the overall monetary policy stance, thereby helping to offset the pandemic-related downward shift in the projected path of inflation. The purchases will continue to be conducted in a flexible manner over time, across asset classes and among jurisdictions. This allows the Governing Council to effectively stave off risks to the smooth transmission of monetary policy. The Governing Council will conduct net asset purchases under the PEPP until at least the end of June 2021 and, in any case, until it judges that the coronavirus crisis phase is over. The Governing Council will reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the PEPP until at least the end of 2022. In any case, the future roll-off of the PEPP portfolio will be managed to avoid interference with the appropriate monetary policy stance.

(3) Net purchases under the asset purchase programme (APP) will continue at a monthly pace of €20 billion, together with the purchases under the additional €120 billion temporary envelope until the end of the year. The Governing Council continues to expect monthly net asset purchases under the APP to run for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates, and to end shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates. The Governing Council intends to continue reinvesting, in full, the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP for an extended period of time past the date when it starts raising the key ECB interest rates, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favourable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.

(4) The Governing Council will also continue to provide ample liquidity through its refinancing operations. In particular, the latest operation in the third series of targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO III) has registered a very high take-up of funds, supporting bank lending to firms and households.

The Governing Council continues to stand ready to adjust all of its instruments, as appropriate, to ensure that inflation moves towards its aim in a sustained manner, in line with its commitment to symmetry.

The President of the ECB will comment on the considerations underlying these decisions at a press conference starting at 14:30 CET today.

And now attention turns to Lagarde.