ecb meets to discuss new anticrisis measures
Last Updated : GMT 09:28:45
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ECB meets to discuss new anti-crisis measures

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Arab Today, arab today ECB meets to discuss new anti-crisis measures

Berlin - AFP

The European Central Bank sits down for its regular monthly policy meeting Thursday amid hopes it will unveil new measures to cure the eurozone\'s seemingly never-ending debt crisis. The ECB\'s decision-making governing council is to convene at the bank\'s Eurotower headquarters, with financial markets hoping president Mario Draghi will reveal details of a revamped programme to buy up the sovereign debt of eurozone countries. Nevertheless, analysts and ECB watchers warn against expecting too much from the meeting. \"Expectations for the ECB meeting are high, perhaps too high,\" said Marie Diron, senior economic adviser to Ernst & Young Eurozone Forecast. \"We do not expect a change in rates but we believe it is highly likely that the ECB will announce a resumption in its bond purchasing programme. What is not so clear is how the ECB will attach conditions to these purchases,\" Diron said. The ECB launched its contested Securities Market Programme (SMP) in May 2010 to help debt-wracked eurozone countries that were finding it difficult to drum up financing in capital markets. But the programme has fierce opponents, particularly in Germany, who argue the scheme, which has succeeded in bringing down the borrowing costs of crisis-hit countries, is tantamount to monetary financing, where the central bank prints money to pay off a country\'s debt. That is expressly forbidden under the ECB\'s statutes. There are also fears the measures will fuel inflation, ease the pressure on over-spending governments to get their finances in order and erode the ECB\'s independence. In the face of such opposition, spearheaded by Bundesbank president Jens Weidemann, Draghi is expected to attach new conditions to any new bond purchases. Speaking before the European Parliament\'s committee for economic and monetary affairs earlier this week, Draghi provided some hints as to what the revamped SMP might look like. He signalled that the ECB would limit the eligible maturities to a maximum of three years. Another condition might be that countries wishing to benefit would have to request a bailout from one of the eurozone\'s rescue funds, the EFSF or the ESM, to ensure they continue their reforms. The ECB has other tools at its disposal to help fight the crisis fires, such as a reduction in key eurozone interest rates. Since the crisis re-erupted late last year, the central bank under Draghi has brought benchmark borrowing costs down to an all-time low of 0.75 percent. Additional easing might be on the cards if the eurozone economy -- which already contracted by 0.2 percent in the second quarter -- weakens further. Nevertheless, economists are divided as to whether further rate cuts will be announced as early as this week. Natixis economists said they were expecting a quarter-point rate cut to 0.50 percent.

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