ECB considers new bond buying programme

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European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde arrives for the Eurogroup meeting in Luxembourg
Last month, the ECB decided to slow the pace of the emergency economic aid it put in place during the pandemic. Above, ECB president Christine Lagarde. Photo: Zheng Huansong/Xinhua via Getty Images

The European Central Bank (ECB) revealed that policymakers considered a larger cut in asset purchases last month, as it also announced it is studying a new bond-buying programme.

The bank said some policymakers argued that markets may have already prepared for the end of emergency support without a huge effect on financing conditions.

“It was argued that a symmetric application of the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) framework would call for a more substantial reduction in the pace of purchases,” the accounts of the September meeting showed on Thursday.

“From this perspective, a pace of purchases similar to the level prevailing at the beginning of the year would be appropriate.”

Read more: ECB's Lagarde warns Delta variant casting 'shadow' over Europe's recovery

It came as the ECB said it was considering a new bond buying programme to prevent market turmoil when emergency purchases are phased out in 2022.

The plan is set to replace the existing programme and work along an open-ended quantitative-easing scheme which currently acquires €20bn (£17bn, $23bn) in debt every month.

According to Bloomberg, who cited people familiar with the matter, purchases would be conducted selectively, although no decisions have been made as of yet.

Last month, the ECB decided to slow the pace of the emergency economic aid it put in place during the pandemic this quarter.

At its policy meeting, the bank said it was taking the step towards unwinding the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) at a "moderately lower pace".

The size of the PEPP envelope still remained at €1.85tn (£1.58tn, $2.19tn) and is due to end in March 2022. It was first put in place in March 2020 to support the eurozone economy through the health crisis.

Read more: ECB slows pace of pandemic emergency purchase programme

The PEPP programme had been buying around €80bn of bonds per month, after the ECB raised the pace earlier in March, and analysts had predicted that purchases would fall to between €60bn and €70bn in the next few months.

ECB president Christine Lagarde said that the move was not "tapering" but that the bank was "recalibrating" similarly as it did in December and March.

Lagarde has delayed an update to the path of monetary stimulus next year to December.

Watch: Lagarde's three biggest economic challenges

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