* Liikanen says ECB reviews all options to improve policy
* Does not rule out corporate bond purchases
HELSINKI, April 19 The European Central Bank is
considering all options to help low interest rates get through
to companies and consumers and there are no legal barriers to it
buying corporate bonds, Governing Council member Erkki Liikanen
was quoted on Friday as saying.
The bank has largely steered clear of intervening on the
corporate debt market as a way of prodding the economy back to
life and has only stepped in to buy government bonds at the
worst moments of the euro zone's debt crisis, in contrast to the
quantitative easing employed by other major central banks.
Asked by a Finnish economic magazine if the bank could use
unconventional means to boost the euro zone economy and step in
to buy corporate bonds, Liikanen said: "One has always to be
ready to explore new options. Our task is to work through money
markets. I am not staking a stance on individual actions, but
all options can be reviewed.
Pressed on whether if it would be legal for the ECB to
purchase corporate bonds directly, he told economic magazine
Talouselama: "Central banks can buy corporate bonds. The Bank of
Finland's investment portfolio has both foreign and domestic
ECB President Mario Draghi earlier this week stressed the
central bank's limited room to manoeuvre to improve lending to
small and medium-sized enterprises, pointing to governments and
institutions like the European Investment Bank for support.
Liikanen also said he was optimistic that Slovenia, striving
to avoid being the next euro zone economy to need bailed out,
and Portugal would carry out necessary economic reforms.
"Slovenia's banking sector is just about the size of the
country's GDP, I have no doubt they can fix the problem,"
Liikanen said in an interview with economic magazine
Although Portugal's constitutional court recently rejected
austerity measures linked to its bailout from the European Union
and International Monetary Fund, Liikanen said he believed the
government wanted to continue with economic reforms.