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This article discusses the likelihood of QE in the Eurozone, the necessity of QE, the problems it could face and the manner in which it would happen.
The Eurozone has faced persistent lowflation (which, for the countries in the periphery, means actual deflation). Hence, there has been a push from many countries for QE – “creating money to buy fiscal assets”. The ECB faces strong opposition from Germany, whose nightmares about hyperinflation eclipse the need for QE to put a stop to sliding inflation.
Both core and headline inflation are slipping lower and lower – substantially lower than the ECB’s 2% target. The all in oil prices itself is a welcome relief for many countries, where the decrease in oil prices reduces their own costs of production. However, if the lower costs of production make people expect deflation (or even lower inflation), deflation will happen, true to its self-fulfilling nature.
Lowflation is equally as harmful as deflation, where the latter means an increase in the real value of debt (debt is in nominal terms), and the former means prices rising slower than what the government expected when they first borrowed money.
As the ECB can no longer decrease the interest rates (it is currently at 0.05%), they must try to expand their own balance sheet by buying sovereign bonds. They plan on expanding it by 1tn euros, although when this will happen is unknown.
Past attempts at increasing their balance sheet and pumping money into their economy was as not fruitful as the ECB had hoped – only 212bn euros of the 400bn euros was borrowed by banks from 2011-2012. One potential reason for this is that banks were not willing to borrow money during a stagnant economy.
Because Germany has its own reservations about the ECB’s buying sovereign bonds, the ECB is also buying covered bonds and asset0backed securities, neither of which is big enough to absorb the whole of the QE needed.
The ECB also has the option of borrowing corporate bonds, but even that market is not substantial.
The ECB, therefore, must buy public debt.
Whenever the ECB may enact QE, the program is unlikely to surpass 500mn euros, which may or may not be sufficient to aid the economy.
This post about the ECB and QE by Ambrosse Evans-Pritchard discusses similar things, and hence, is worth reading. Both articles reach a similar conclusion that the scale of QE the ECB plans to do is insufficient.