Europe’s most important economic policymaker just dropped the biggest hint yet that there’ll be a major boost to the eurozone’s quantitative easing programme in December.
Speaking in Frankfurt, European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said: “We will do what we must to raise inflation as quickly as possible,” a similar line to his famous “whatever it takes” in 2012, a speech credited with bringing the euro crisis off the boil.
He’s not firing the bazooka today, but he’s letting everyone know that it’s loaded, and aimed.
Here’s a crucial passage from Friday’s comments:
If we conclude that the balance of risks to our medium-term price stability objective is skewed to the downside, we will act by using all the instruments available within our mandate. In particular, we consider the APP to be a powerful and flexible instrument, as it can be adjusted in terms of size, composition or duration to achieve a more expansionary policy stance.
That may not sound like much, but in central bank speak it’s as close to a promise as it gets.
The QE programme announced in January this year ran to about €1.1 trillion ($US1.18 trillion, £777 billion), but inflation remains extremely low, and growth is modest at best.
It also sounds like the ECB may cut the already-negative deposit rate (-0.20%) further below zero, something that was thought extremely unlikely until recently. Here’s another snippet of his speech:
The level of the deposit facility rate can also empower the transmission of APP, not least by increasing the velocity of circulation of bank reserves. If we decide that the current trajectory of our policy is not sufficient to achieve our objective, we will do what we must to raise inflation as quickly as possible. That is what our price stability mandate requires of us.
The comments also drove the euro further down against the dollar — it’s currently below $US1.07: