The ECB has left its policy stance unchanged after today’s GC meeting. The tone of the press conference was a touch less dovish than expected and President Lagarde has not signaled any large swing in policy in the near term. The overall message was clear: the ECB is monitoring current developments (including the EUR) and assessing the efficiency of the current policy measures before acting with more accommodation
We do not expect ECB policy action this week, but guidance is that the ECB has its finger on the trigger for more PEPP (Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme). Communication will not be easy, but EUR appreciation, record low core inflation and Fed policy should make for very dovish tones. We expect €500bn more PEPP in December, but inflation expectations urgently need attention too. Front-end rates will likely be supported by FX concerns, but credit risks are increasingly underpriced in by the market. Beyond verbal intervention, we think the ECB has limited options to weaken EUR for now.
Last week in financial markets saw the euro rise above the $1.20 threshold. ECB chief economist Philip Lane intervened recalling market participants that the exchange rate “mattered”. The single currency traded down to $1.18 shortly after the comments. Currency appreciation amid near-zero inflation in the euro area is unwelcome for future price developments. Christine Lagarde’s message next Thursday after the governing council will likely echo Lane’s comments.
Peter Allen Goves (MFS Investment Management) | The overall macro picture has not changed significantly since the June meeting. The economy continues to recover and the inflation outlook is muted. We still see enough flexibility in the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP) to combat any unwarranted tightening in financial conditions. The June targeted longer-term refinancing operation (TLTRO) was a successful exercise and the extra liquidity added (around €550bn) is seen as enough to support the private sector into the recovery phase (or at least reduce liquidity crisis). Overall, we do not believe there is a strong need for further action from the European Central Bank (ECB) at the current juncture. If anything, the ECB communication will be closely watched.
Ofelia Marín-Lozano (1962 Capital SICAV) | The starting point is much more solid than in 2008, when the banks emerged from many years of double-digit credit expansion and high rates. In addition, European banks have significantly improved their equity base, which is double, or even almost triple, the levels reached a decade ago in all their solvency ratios. The ratio of higher quality capital to risk-weighted assets, (CET1 or common equity tier 1) has risen from levels below 6% in 2011 to over 14% today.
Olivia Álvarez (Monex Europe) | The ECB delivers on market expectations and steps up the total amount of quantitative easing under PEPP purchases by €600 billion. The rise outperformed the consensus call by at least some €100 billion, bringing along a stronger-than-expected market reaction. The program firepower, worth €1.35 trillion now, is set to channel the main recovery mechanism by the ECB, which is vocally reinforcing its accommodative stance amid the current recession environment.
BofA Global Research | We cut our Euro area GDP forecast to -8.3% this year and +4.6% next. The recovery will be weak, permanent income losses big. Fiscal stimulus is not enough to boost consumers and capex. Deficits will still be very big, c 17% cumulatively in 2020/21. The Franco-German initiative helps sentiment earlier than growth. ECB help will remain crucial. PEPP has to double, at least.
Intermoney | In the name of the ECB independence, Christine Lagarde, made it clear that the only guide for the institution is the fulfilment of its mandate and no resources or efforts will be spared in this task. Once the central bank has made it clear that it does not accept the authority of the German courts, it must move on towards a more political phase in which it can build bridges and provide a solution to the problem. If it does not do so within three months, the Bundesbank could find itself in a difficult legal mess.
Philppe Waechter (Ostrum AM) The main point on the ECB meeting is the large uncertainty contained in the GDP forecasts. Last March, the ECB forecast was +0.8% for 2020. Today, Christine Lagarde said the gdp was expected to drop between -6 and -12% for 2020. That’s a huge revision reflecting uncertainty for the foreseeable future.
Konstantin Veit, PIMCO, Senior Portfolio Manager European Rates Desk | The ECB meets on Thursday, and while we believe the Governing Council will strongly reiterate its readiness to do whatever it takes we don’t think any far reaching monetary policy decision will be taken at the April meeting. There is a chance for the ECB to clarify the treatment of “fallen angels” within the various asset purchase programs, whereby we expect grandfathering in line with the recent changes to the collateral eligibility framework to make head against pro-cyclicality.