ECB president says risks to economy diminished

ECB president says risks to economy diminished

The ECB leaves all its policy measures unchanged.

The currency bloc's economy has been on its best run for a decade but ECB President Mario Draghi is yet to be convinced that the recent rebound in inflation is durable because wage growth remains sluggish.

Draghi said at a news conference Thursday that risks to growth are now "broadly balanced".

But the bank trimmed inflation forecasts for the next three years and said "substantial" amounts of stimulus through its unprecedented asset purchase scheme were still needed.

The euro fluctuated after the decision and was down 0.2% at $1.1233 at 1.49pm Frankfurt time.

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Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the Governing Council confirms that the net asset purchases, at the current monthly pace of €60 billion, are meant to run until the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim.

The news chimed with a leaked draft forecast reported on by Bloomberg ahead of the policy-setting meeting, which said the European Central Bank was preparing to cut its inflation outlook after projecting lower consumer price growth at 1.5% across 2017, 2018 and 2019. That would barely rise to 1.6 percent in 2019, down from an earlier estimate of 1.7 percent and further away from its official target of at or close to two percent.

He added that inflation remains subdued.

Inflation on the other hand was now seen lower over that same time horizon, rising by 1.5% in 2017 (instead of 1.7%), 1.3% in 2018 (instead of 1.6%) and by 1.6% in 2019 (instead of 1.7%). That's a change from its previous guidance, which talked about rates at "present levels or lower".

Draghi also said the GC had not discussed the expected start date to tapering the ECB's QE programme.

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On Thursday, the bank left its bond purchase stimulus unchanged at 60 billion euros per month through at least the end of the year and longer if necessary.

Analysts think the purchases will be tapered next year, but the bank has moved gingerly in indicating when it might be ready to announce a schedule for reducing and then ending them.

Meanwhile, the by-products of this ultra-loose monetary policy have become clear. "For example, as banks struggle with profitability, they have to take additional risks", Schubert told DW.

Sources have told Reuters the European Central Bank is likely to nudge up its growth forecasts but trim some of its inflation projections, indicating that its stimulus is working but remains needed. It is also charging banks negative interest of 0.4 percent on excess cash parked at the ECB. "Unpopular austerity need not cut so deep".

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