Draghi says ECB ready to adjust quantitative easing if needed

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said in remarks published Friday that the ECB is ready to adjust its large-scale asset-purchase program, known as quantitative easing, if needed.

The comments underscore concerns among global financial leaders that turmoil in emerging markets could disrupt growth prospects in developed economies and force central banks either to delay plans to normalise policy or ramp up already accommodative measures.

“In the light of renewed risks that have emerged on the back of recent developments in global and in financial and commodity markets, we are closely monitoring all relevant incoming information and are ready to use all the instruments available within our mandate to act, if warranted,” said Mr Draghi in a speech at the International Monetary and Financial Committee, which was published on the ECB’s website. “In particular by adjusting the size, composition and duration of the asset purchase program.”

Since March, the ECB has purchased €60 billion ($A93.9bn) a month of mostly government bonds in an effort to prop up inflation in the currency bloc. The program is due to run until September 2016 and may go beyond that date if the ECB judges that more is needed to bring inflation closer to the central bank’s medium-term target of just below 2 per cent.

The ECB’s accommodative policy received support Friday from a top official of the International Monetary Fund. Poul Thomsen, the director of the IMF’s European department, praised the ECB, saying “it should continue to stand ready to extend QE, if inflation fails to pick up or if financial conditions tighten.”

In his speech, Mr Draghi said “headline inflation is expected to remain very low in the near term, until upward base effects relating to energy prices push it up towards the end of the year.”

“Inflation rates are foreseen to rise further during 2016 and 2017,” he said.

“Faced with a more challenging external environment than six months ago, the euro area economy has shown signs of resilience,” said Mr Draghi. “However, developments surrounding the slower growth in emerging-market economies are posing renewed risks to the euro area outlook.”

2017-02-16T10:29:57+00:00

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