With the market worried that Mario Draghi could surprise hawkishly in his parting announcement…
… that is how the market initially interpreted today’s ECB press release, which cut already negative deposit rates for the first time since 2016 to stimulate the sagging European economy, but by a smaller than expected 10bps to -0.50% while restarting QE but by “only” €20 billion, less than the €30 billion baseline.
However, there was more than enough offsetting dovish bells and whistles, because while the restarted QE (or the Asset Purchase Program) was smaller than expected, it will be open-ended, and the ECB will run it “for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates, and to end shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates.” Of course, the question here is how long can a safe-asset constrained Europe run an “open-ended” QE, and the answer is it depends on what the issuer limit by nation is, with Frederik Ducrozet observing that “at €20bn/month, assuming up to €5bn in corporate bonds, QE can run for ~9 months under current limits… and for more than 7 years if limits are raised to 50%!” So look for more information on that angle.
At €20bn/month, assuming up to €5bn in corporate bonds, QE can run for ~9 months under current limits… and for more than 7 years if limits are raised to 50%!
We might get details about issuer limits in the separate press releases and/or the press conference. pic.twitter.com/jJ2vrJIiJR
— Frederik Ducrozet (@fwred) September 12, 2019
Additionally, the ECB dropped calendar-based forward guidance and replaced it with inflation-linked guidance, noting that key ECB interest rates will “remain at their present or lower levels until it has seen the inflation outlook robustly converge to a level sufficiently close to, but below, 2% within its projection horizon.” Furthermore, the ECB eased TLTRO terms, with banks whose eligible net lending exceeds a benchmark, the rate applied in TLTRO III operations will be lower, and can be as low as the average interest rate on the deposit facility prevailing over the life of the operation; additionally, the maturity of the operations will be extended from two to three years.