The ECB’s decision prior to Christmas to extend QE for another nine months to December 2017, though ‘taper’ it from this April, does not herald an early tightening of economic policy, according to Group Chief Economist Neil Williams in his January Ahead of the Curve. Quite the opposite in fact, with the key deposit rate likely to stay negative in 2017, and the fiscal side activated.
2017’s extra QE easily surpasses the combined GDPs of Greece & Portugal...
Tapering means more QE. By tapering its monthly asset purchases from €80bn to €60bn, it’s still looking to inject an extra €540bn in QE. This easily surpasses the combined GDPs of Greece and Portugal. Central banks can now buy bonds that yield lower than the -0.4% deposit rate.
However, the nuance, is Mr Draghi’s growing encouragement of governments to take the baton back from the ECB. A lesson from Japan is that QE provides cash to lend, but cannot force consumers and firms to borrow. The euro-zone thus looks halfway down the Japan route. It too may be running unconventionally loose monetary policy (QE and negative rates) to get its currency down, but has yet to let go of the fiscal reins.