Mario Draghi delivered interest-rate cuts, more bond purchases and a potential subsidy to lenders in a renewed attack against the threat of deflation, before whipsawing the euro by saying the European Central Bank is done with lowering borrowing costs for now.
The 25-member Governing Council, which met in Frankfurt on Thursday, reduced the rate on cash parked overnight by banks by 10 basis points to minus 0.4 percent and lowered its benchmark rate to zero. Bond purchases were increased to 80 billion euros ($87 billion) a month from 60 billion euros, and corporate bonds will now be eligible. A new series of long-term loans to banks will begin in June.
“The Governing Council expects key interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for long period of time and well past the horizon of our net asset purchases,” Draghi said. Based on the current view, “we don’t anticipate it will be necessary to reduce rates further.”
The euro reversed losses as the ECB president signaled a diminished prospect of further cuts. The currency dropped earlier after the initial package exceeded market expectations. Draghi has repeatedly said policy makers are willing to do what’s necessary to revive inflation and underpin the region’s upturn.