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QE: if not now, when?

Thursday, October 02, 2014 - 02:25

The ECB presents a new asset-buying plan designed to revive the flagging euro zone economy and see off the spectre of deflation. But as David Pollard reports, many won't be satisfied until the Bank implements QE.

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It's been a month of misery for the euro zone. Manufacturing at a 14-month low, consumer confidence on the slide and inflation softening - leaving investors looking for a miracle from above. Or, at least, from the ECB. There was no miracle - but there was another hint of QE to come, if necessary. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: ''I can only reiterate that the governing council stands - is unanimous in its commitment - to use other unconventional instruments if it were to judge that the risks of too low inflation for too prolonged a time were to deteriorate.'' Markets did get the small print of the ECB asset buying programme. The first purchases may start within weeks. What Draghi called its ''potential universe'' amounting to a possible one trillion euros. Controversially, Greek assets may be included. And there was a warning: EU member states should not abandon their stability pact - but should reform. Irrespective of what the ECB does. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: ''There is no great bargain here - 'we do this if you do that'. We know that our measures are going to more effective if - or sometimes are effective only if - other policies will be in place.'' As for future ECB decisions on how to boost the economy - they could be close. (SOUNDBITE) (English) MARIO DRAGHI, PRESIDENT, EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK: ''Don't forget the ultimate test is the expectation of inflation expectations. And that we are going to gear our action according to how the medium-term outlook of our inflation expectations will develop in the coming months. Not the coming years, but the coming months.'' One thing Draghi does have on his side: the euro. Its recent weakness may push up import prices - and help him out of his inflation conundrum. If that doesn't happen soon, his timeline fits in with a scenario expected by Peter Dixon of Commerzbank. SOUNDBITE (ENGLISH) PETER DIXON, GLOBAL ECONOMIST, COMMERZBANK: ''It's likely that we'll see a weakening of activity in the second half of the year. It's also likely that the ECB will be forced to revise down on its 2015 growth projections and I think by the time we get to, let's just say, January of next year we're really going to be looking very seriously at the prospect of the ECB taking additional action.'' Once again, 'though, Draghi was at pains to state that the level of the euro was not an ECB target. But for most investors there seems little doubt which way the euro is heading - and it's not up.

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QE: if not now, when?

Thursday, October 02, 2014 - 02:25