ECB moots asset buys to head off deflation

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Bloomberg Athens and Zurich

European Central Bank (ECB) policymakers had debated large-scale asset purchases among a range of measures to head off the threat of deflation in the euro zone, bank president Mario Draghi said yesterday.

“There was a discussion about QE [quantitative easing], it wasn’t neglected,” Draghi said in Frankfurt after the ECB kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged. The governing council was “unanimous in its commitment to also using unconventional instruments within its mandate”.

ECB officials are discussing new departures as inflation slows to a level that is a quarter of their 2 percent goal. With a strengthening euro and high unemployment threatening the region’s recovery, options include further rate cuts, which would take the deposit rate into negative territory.

“We talked about lower interest rates, a lower deposit facility rate, we talked about QE.” At the same time, Draghi observed that the impetus behind action for this month was lowered by a statistical effect causing last month’s lower-than-expected inflation result.

The benchmark rate was kept at 0.25 percent and the deposit rate was left at zero.. – Bloomberg

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