ECB, BOE want more lenient rules

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ECB Reuters. The Euro currency sign is seen in front of the European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt.

Frankfurt - The European Central Bank and the Bank of England on Friday called for easier rules regarding certain securities so as to get credit flowing again in the eurozone economy.

In a joint declaration issued at the spring meeting of the International Monetary Fund, the ECB and the BoE complained that the market for securitised loans - widely blamed for causing the financial crisis in single currency area - was impaired and shrinking.

“This is a concern because securitisation, if appropriately structured and regulated, can complement other long-term wholesale funding sources for the real economy, including for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs),” the two central banks said.

Credit in the euro area has practically dried up for months now, weighing on the very tepid economic recovery in the region.

And with inflation running at 0.5 percent - way below the ECB's target of just under 2.0 percent - the central bank is looking into using “unconventional instruments” to avert possible deflation.

Among these measures, the ECB has found itself under pressure to resort to quantitative easing, or asset buying.

But the ECB has been wary of purchasing sovereign debt - as practised by the Federal Reserve and Bank of England - because some see it as a way of printing money to bail out governments and that is strictly forbidden under the ECB's statutes.

The ECB and BoE said that asset-backed securities (ABS) - bundles of mortgage, small business and other loans that are packaged as securities and sold to investors - have “the potential to improve the efficiency of resource allocation in the economy and to allow for better risk sharing.”

They can transform “relatively illiquid assets into more liquid securities” which can lead to lower costs of capital, higher economic growth and a broader distribution of risk.

The problem was that rules drawn up to prevent the crisis from happening again were “unduly conservative” when it came to ABS, impeding the flow of credit to small businesses, the ECB and BoE said.

It was “important that the authorities seek to ensure that new regulations at global and EU levels do not act to the detriment of the securitisation market,” the statement said. - Sapa-AFP



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