Mario Draghi led the European Central Bank into a new era with an historic pledge to buy government bonds as part of an asset-purchase program worth about 1.1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion).
The ECB president side-stepped German-led opposition to quantitative easing in a once-and-for-all push to revive inflation and the euro-area economy. The central bank will buy 60 billion euros per month of securities until September 2016. The ECB also reduced the cost of its long-term loans to banks.
A near-stagnant economy and the risk of deflation forced Draghi’s hand six years after the Federal Reserve took a similar step to inject cash into the U.S. The 67-year-old Italian’s gamble is that the benefits of quantitative easing outweigh the threat of a backlash in Germany and that the ECB ends up bailing out profligate, reform-wary governments.
The ECB “decided to launch an expanded asset-program encompassing the existing purchase programs of ABS and covered bonds,” Draghi told reporters in Frankfurt. “We see sustained adjustment in the path of inflation which is consistent with our aim of achieving our aim of inflation rates close to but below 2 percent.”
Investors reacted by selling the euro and buying European stocks. The currency weakened 0.9 percent to $1.1508 at 3:10 p.m. in Frankfurt. The Euro Stoxx 50 added 0.8 percent.