The European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to begin reducing its bond purchases gradually tampering its stimulation program of Quantitative Easing (QE). Nevertheless, reliable sources tell of the ECB being extremely cautious fearing what will happen if buyers do not appear and rates begin to rise sharply. The difference between the ECB and the Fed is stark. The ECB owns 40% of Eurozone government debt. The Fed does not even come close.
Obviously, the European financial markets have become addicted to the unprecedented inflow of cheap money even though there has been no appreciable rise in economic growth or inflation as was expected. This raises the question only asked behind the curtain: Will the economy spiral downward if QE ends? The Fed never reached the levels of ECB’s QE program so there is no comparison with the States.
The ECB expects to gradually lower the constant QE purchases of government debt in the Eurozone, which has really kept the governments on life-support. In part, this is why Macron is pushing to federalize Europe in its budgetary and financial markets. There is a fear that there will be severe distortions on the exchanges in the months ahead. What is hoped is that the Euro will decline and make the difficult weaning more tolerable by increasing exports and creating inflation. A lower currency will help to stimulate the Eurozone whereas a rising currency will only add to the deflationary pressures.
The ECB will most likely allow bonds to simply mature rather than sell them back to the marketplace. Any news of the ECB actually selling bonds would send a wave of panic through the European markets. Thus, the only practical way to approach this is to (1) reduce purchases and (2) allow current holding to mature and hopefully they money will be reinvested by the private sector.
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