QE programme to begin Mar. 9, says ECB chief Draghi

(AGI) Rome, Mar 5 - The European Central Bank's quantitativeeasing programme is due to start on Mar. 9. The programmeprovides for the purchase

QE programme to begin Mar. 9, says ECB chief Draghi
(AGI) Rome, Mar 5 - The European Central Bank's quantitativeeasing programme is due to start on Mar. 9. The programmeprovides for the purchase on the secondary market of debtsecurities of eurozone public institutions at a level of 60billion euros per month, President of the European Central Bank(ECB), Mario Draghi told a press conference on Thursday. TheECB, meanwhile, has raised its estimates on eurozone GDP growthto 1.5 percent in 2015, 1.9 percent in 2016 and 2.1 percent in2017. The ECB's expansionary monetary policy has alreadyhad a "favourable impact" on the economy of the eurozone,according to the Bank chief, who mentioned the lowering offinancing costs both for countries and for individuals,starting from the relaxing of credit conditions for householdsand businesses. "The risks surrounding the economic outlookfor the euro area remain on the downside," said the ECBPresident who sees "improvements in economic activity at thebeginning of this year" and expects further improvements later. The purchases will mainly be of government bonds but alsoinvolve issues by supranational institutions in the eurozonesuch as the ESM and EFSF bailout funds. The programme will lastuntil at least September 2016 but could be extendedindefinitely until the goal of bringing inflation to a levelbelow but close to 2 percent is reached. The minimum amount ofthe quantitative easing programme will be 1,140 billion euros,12 percent of which will be invested in the securities ofsupranational institutions such as the EFSF and EIB. TheECB may buy government bonds deemed investment grade, namelythose rated above junk level, by at least one ratings agency.Exemptions are provided for countries following aninternational assistance plan. Therefore Greece will remain outof the programme until the "troika" of international creditorsconcludes the current monitoring. The securities purchasedby the ECB will have a maturity of from two to three decadesand cannot exceed 25 percent of the debt issued in every singleissue, and 33 percent of a country's total debt. In practicepurchases of sovereign debt will be carried out by nationalcentral banks, which will guarantee 80 percent of the bondspurchased. Therefore, the risk will be shared by the ECB andnational banks for just 20 percent of the bonds bought, or allof the securities of supranational European institutions, 12percent of the above, and a share of sovereign bonds at 8percent of the total. Finally, at the same time as QE,purchases of asset-backed securities and covered bonds willcontinue. These are currently progressing at the rate of 13billion euros per month. .