Uncomfortable Truth I:
While the central bank has so far bought 183 billion euros ($249 billion) worth of distressed nations’ bonds, it says the purchases are aimed solely at ensuring its interest rates are transmitted on financial markets. To prevent the purchases from fueling inflation, it sterilizes them by draining the same amount of money they create from the banking system.
Knot said the ECB can maintain its bond buying as long as it can continue to remove the same amount of money from the system. “The bigger the portfolio, the more difficult that becomes,” he said. “Interventions can only have a temporary and very limited effect,” Knot added.
Rabobank economist Elwin de Groot estimates there is a “natural limit” of 300 billion euros the ECB can sterilize.
Uncomfortable Truth II:
Bond buying with the aim of bailing out a government is monetary financing and prohibited by the euro’s founding treaty, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said this week. He citedGermany’s experience of hyperinflation after World War I as a reason why such action should never be contemplated again.
“That’s absolutely, clearly beyond the mandate of the central bank,” Praet said in comments posted on the Debating Europe website today.
Uncomfortable Truth III:
The ECB is “not the lender of last resort and I wouldn’t advise European governments to ask the ECB to become the lender of last resort,” Stark said in Frankfurt last night. “This will mean that the ECB will immediately lose its independence.”