Tag Archives: Securities Markets Programme

Are ECB’s Greek bond purchases really irrelevant for the private sector?

Motivated by the current discussions about the Greek debt problems, Paul De Grauwe and Yuemei Ji have a VoxEu column addressing “Why the ECB should not insist on repayment of its Greek bonds”. In a debate that currently is, and has been for a long while, marred by political idiosyncrasies and ethnic stereotypes of the worst kind, it is a sound and healthy contribution based on basic public accounting. In all fairness, however, the authors cannot help contributing to the nationalistic platitude by making snide remarks about “hard-working German tax payers”. Also, in an earlier VoxEu column on the same subject they almost question the intellectual sanity of German economics … Continue reading

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From SMP to OMT: ECB commits to destroy monetary transmission

This is not a humorous title, and this is not a funny post. A couple of days ago, the ECB announced after its Governing Council meeting that it would initiate a new program of sovereign debt purchases. The program is named Outright Monetary Transactions, which adds OMT to the endless list of acronyms that has emerged after the onset of the financial crisis. The program replaces the Securities Markets Programme (SMP), or, rather, extends it in a number of directions. As mentioned in my post on the last ECB policy meeting, its need for emphasizing that what it does is not illegal strikes me as odd if not suspicious. At … Continue reading

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Draghi cuts and markets flip

Last week marked the second time where new President of the European Central Bank, Mario Draghi, governed an interest-rate decision for the Euro area. And for the second time it was and interest rate cut, implying an interest rate on main refinancing operations of 1.00% effective from 14 December. This ties the lowest level in Euro history, which was effective from 13 May 2009 to 13 April 2011. So, loosely speaking the interest rate is back at the financial crisis level. The decision makes sense given the economic outlook for the Euro area: A continuation of high unemployment and absence of inflationary pressures. It was, however, not a unanimous decision. … Continue reading

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ECB public debt purchases by numbers

I wrote last week about the ECB’s renewed purchases of public Euro debt (in particular Spanish and Italian). Now the actual numbers are out, and the confirm what market participants signaled: The ECB was not in for a small operation. The ECB purchased for around 22 billion Euros, thereby raising its stock of debt purchased under the Securities Markets Programme to 96 billion Euros. An unprecedented increase in the stock of almost 30 %. Today, the ECB will suck up the associated liquidity created (and will do so the next week, and the next . . . ). From a weekly perspective, the operation appeared successful as bond yields have … Continue reading

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ECB buys public debt again: Otmar Issing voices strong critique

In a rare Sunday press release (August 7) , the President of the ECB, Jean-Claude Trichet (on behalf of the Governing Council), hailed the fiscal and structural measures of Spain and Italy and their commitments—along with other member countries—to strictly adhere to “fiscal targets”. Then he emphasized that countries are sovereign states that themselves should honor their own “signature as a key element in ensuring financial stability in the euro area as a whole“. (Oh, and he supports the joint statement of the same day by France and Germany, which is not surprising given the occasional word-by-word similarities.) Then he concludes that the Securities Markets Programme (SMP) will be activated. … Continue reading

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ECB, SMP (II): Direct vs. secondary purchases

In my recent post on the ECB’s Securities Market Programme (SMP), I noted that the programme was in violation of the Treaty of the European Union. I based this on Article 21.1, which states: “. . . overdrafts or any other type of credit facility with the ECB or with the national central banks in favour of Union institutions, bodies, offices or agencies, central governments, regional, local or other public authorities, other bodies governed by public law, or public undertakings of Member States shall be prohibited, as shall the purchase directly from them by the ECB or national central banks of debt instruments.” – Article 21.1 of “ON THE STATUTE … Continue reading

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ECB, SMP, ETC. Who pays for what?

After the financial crisis hit in 2008, new acronyms have been appearing at a rapid pace around the globe. These mainly describe the various measures taken by the world’s central banks to offset the troubles caused by the crisis. Many took the form of liquidity provisions to aid “frozen” banking markets. The European Central Bank launched on May 14, 2010 a so-called Securities Market Programme (SMP), under which it – temporarily – allows itself to purchase Euro denominated government bonds. In its decision, the ECB motivated the move by “ . . . in view of the current exceptional circumstances in financial markets, characterised by severe tensions in certain market … Continue reading

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