So far, the ECB has implemented rate cuts, provided cheap loans to banks and purchased covered bonds and asset backed securities in the hope of stimulating the euro zone economy. However, with consumer prices now falling in the region, the ECB has implied that it is ready to reveal even greater measures to try to boost inflation back to its target levels and provide a fillip for growth in the region.
The ECB’s balance sheet currently stands at just over 2 trillion euros ($2.33 trillion) but it has intentions to raise it to 3 trillion euros. A U.S. Federal Reserve-style program of sovereign bond purchases has been touted despite fears over its legitimacy and opposition from Germany.
Germany is the largest euro zone economy, and would likely be the recipient of the largest amount of ECB cash under such a package. There are fears on the part of German policymakers that it could give struggling euro zone governments an excuse for not implementing the fiscal reforms they need.
“QE might be limited in its scope in order to appease German opposition to a central bank funding government debt,” Gemma Godfrey, the head of investment strategy at Brooks Macdonald, told CNBC via email.
The amount of firepower the ECB has is also “questionable” and its ability to deploy it is unproven, according to Godfrey. She believes that the main risk could this year could actually be a U.S. recovery failing to lift growth in the rest of the world and Europe, instead, pulling U.S. growth lower.
“There is a risk the additional liquidity finds its home in higher-yielding opportunities outside the euro zone,” she added, also explaining that “more money doesn’t necessarily mean more jobs” if the stimulus doesn’t find its way into the pockets of the consumer.
With equity analysts generally bullish about European stock markets this year, it could be the single currency that shows the most impact from next Thursday’s rate decision. The euro has depreciated by 15 percent against the dollar since the start of 2014 and there’s a consensus that QE could flood the market with euros and push it even lower.