Abstract. Challenges the European economy began to face 12 years ago raised the question about actions European Central Bank (ECB) have to undertake to maintain the financial sustainability, considering its objective to ensure price stability while coping with a changed economic environment. Provision that the ECB is obliged to take efforts to ensure financial stability as well as potentially serious consequences of crisis’ impact on the banking system and industrial production, led to an expansion of its role beyond standard monetary policy measures, with the unconventional steps being taken in addition to conventional to combat the adverse impact of the financial crisis. While reducing the interest rate, ECB also provided a cheap financial capital for banks via fixed-rate “Long Term Refinancing Operations” (LTROs), and three “Covered Bond Purchase Programmes” (CBPP). Purchases of debt securities were also conducted via “Securities Market Programme” (SMP) and, later, with then ECB’s President Mario Draghi declaring that ECB will do “whatever it takes to preserve the euro”, possibility of their increase was announced with the start of “Outright Monetary Transactions” (OMT) Programme. A mere announcement of the OMT was enough to calm financial markets, as none of the eurozone countries applied for financial support within this programme’s framework. Then ECB proceeded with a full-fledged quantitative easing, starting to buy sovereign bonds under its Public Sector Purchase Programme (PSPP), having spent 2.6 trillion € on its implementation. Understanding that a monetary union without an efficient banking union is unacceptably dangerous, the European Banking Union, under which supervision of largest eurozone banks has transferred directly to the ECB, was progressively established. While ECB’s anti-crisis policies achieved their goals, prolongation of the strategy it adopted may create new risks for the financial stability of the euro area, such as excessive dependence of credit institutions on monetary support and excessive inflationary risks under a zero interest-rate policy. Still, EU institutions’ coordinated financial management played an important role in overcoming the existing turbulence, with fiscal and monetary policy measures reinforcing each other.
Keywords: debt crisis, eurozone, monetary policy, interest rate, bond purchase, European Central Bank, European Union
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