ECB Leaves Monetary Policy Unchanged

The ECB held its benchmark refinancing rate at 0 percent on July 20th, as widely expected, and confirmed the net asset purchases are intended to run at the current monthly pace of €60 billion until the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary. Policymakers agreed that economic and monetary analysis confirm the need for a continued very substantial degree of monetary accommodation.

Excerpts from the Introductory statement to the press conference by Mario Draghi:

Our monetary policy measures have continued to secure the very supportive financing conditions that are necessary to make continuous progress towards a sustained convergence of inflation rates to levels below, but close to, 2% over the medium term. The incoming information confirms a continued strengthening of the economic expansion in the euro area, which has been broadening across sectors and regions.

While the ongoing economic expansion provides confidence that inflation will gradually head to levels in line with our inflation aim, it has yet to translate into stronger inflation dynamics. Headline inflation is dampened by the weakness in energy prices. Moreover, measures of underlying inflation remain overall at subdued levels. Therefore, a very substantial degree of monetary accommodation is still needed for underlying inflation pressures to gradually build up and support headline inflation developments in the medium term. If the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, we stand ready to increase our asset purchase programme in terms of size and/or duration.

The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook are broadly balanced. On the one hand, the current positive cyclical momentum increases the chances of a stronger than expected economic upswing. On the other hand, downside risks primarily relating to global factors continue to exist.

Euro area annual HICP inflation was 1.3% in June, down slightly from 1.4% in May, mainly due to lower energy price inflation. Looking ahead, on the basis of current futures prices for oil, headline inflation is likely to remain around current levels in the coming months. At the same time, measures of underlying inflation remain low and have yet to show convincing signs of a pick-up, as domestic cost pressures, including wage growth, are still subdued. Underlying inflation in the euro area is expected to rise only gradually over the medium term, supported by our monetary policy measures, the continuing economic expansion and the corresponding gradual absorption of economic slack.

To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the signals coming from the monetary analysis confirmed the need for a continued very substantial degree of monetary accommodation to secure a sustained return of inflation rates towards levels that are below, but close to, 2%.

ECB | Joana Ferreira |
7/20/2017 12:55:12 PM