ECB Leaves Monetary Policy Unchanged

The ECB held its benchmark refinancing rate at 0 percent for the sixth straight time on October 20th, as widely expected. Both the deposit rate and the lending rate were also left steady at -0.4 percent and 0.25 percent, respectively. Policymakers reiterated they expect the key ECB interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time and confirmed that the monthly asset purchases of €80 billion are intended to run until the end of March 2017, or beyond, if necessary.

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

Looking ahead, we continue to expect the economic recovery to proceed at a moderate pace. Domestic demand remains supported by the pass-through of our monetary policy measures to the real economy. Favourable financing conditions and improvements in corporate profitability continue to promote a recovery in investment. Sustained employment gains, which are also benefiting from past structural reforms, and still relatively low oil prices provide additional support for households’ real disposable income and thus for private consumption. In addition, the fiscal stance in the euro area is expected to be mildly expansionary in 2016 and to turn broadly neutral in 2017 and 2018.

At the same time, headwinds to the economic recovery in the euro area include the outcome of the UK referendum and other geopolitical uncertainties, subdued growth prospects in emerging markets, the necessary balance sheet adjustments in a number of sectors and a sluggish pace of implementation of structural reforms. Against this background, the risks to the euro area growth outlook remain tilted to the downside.

According to Eurostat, euro area annual HICP inflation in June 2016 was 0.1%, up from -0.1% in May, mainly reflecting higher energy and services price inflation. Looking ahead, on the basis of current futures prices for oil, inflation rates are likely to remain very low in the next few months before starting to pick up later in 2016, in large part owing to base effects in the annual rate of change of energy prices. Supported by our monetary policy measures and the expected economic recovery, inflation rates should increase further in 2017 and 2018.

The monetary policy measures in place since June 2014 have significantly improved borrowing conditions for firms and households, as well as credit flows across the euro area. The comprehensive package of new monetary policy measures adopted in March this year underpins the ongoing upturn in loan growth, thereby supporting the recovery of the real economy. In the light of the prevailing uncertainties, it is essential that the bank lending channel continues to function well.

Monetary policy is focused on maintaining price stability over the medium term and its accommodative stance supports economic activity. As emphasised repeatedly by the Governing Council, and as again strongly echoed in both European and international policy discussions, in order to reap the full benefits from our monetary policy measures, other policy areas must contribute much more decisively, both at the national and at the European level. The implementation of structural reforms needs to be substantially stepped up to reduce structural unemployment and boost potential output growth in the euro area. 

 ECB Leaves Monetary Policy Unchanged

ECB | Joana Ferreira |
10/20/2016 12:55:53 PM