ECB devises 'German-friendly' QE programme: report

16th January 2015, Comments 0 comments

The European Central Bank has devised a bond-buying programme that will be acceptable to Germany, which has voiced deep reservations about the measure, the weekly news magazine Der Spiegel reported on Friday.

In the past, Germany has made no secret of its objections to a contested programme of so-called quantitative easing -- or sovereign bond purchases -- which the ECB is planning to help prevent the eurozone from slipping into deflation, possibly as early as next week.

German government officials, as well as the head of the central bank or Bundesbank, Jens Weidmann, have repeatedly voiced concern about such a programme.

They believe it will take away the pressure on governments to push through essential, but painful, economic reforms. And taxpayers, particularly German ones, could end up footing the bill should another country be unable to repay its debt, the critics argue.

According to Der Spiegel, ECB chief Mario Draghi presented a scheme aimed at placating such concerns to Chancellor Angela Merkel and Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble at a meeting on Wednesday.

Merkel's office confirmed a meeting took place but refused to reveal what was discussed.

The weekly, in a pre-released copy of a story to appear in Sunday's edition, said that under the revised scheme, the national central banks will only be allowed to buy the sovereign debt of their respective countries.

That means that each national central bank alone will carry the risk of a possible default by their government. And Germany, Europe's paymaster, will not have to bail out another country, the magazine said.

In addition, a ceiling of 20-25 percent will be set on how much a central bank can buy of a government's debt, Der Spiegel said, without revealing its sources.

Furthermore, crisis-hit Greece will not participate in the scheme because its sovereign debt does not fulfil the necessary quality criteria, the report said.

The ECB holds its first policy meeting of the year on Thursday and is widely expected to announce some sort of QE programme to try to kick-start the eurozone's sluggish economy.

© 2015 AFP

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