Asmussen Says ECB Has `Done Its Part' Providing Liquidity

European Central Bank Executive Board member Joerg Asmussen said that it’s not the ECB’s role to provide additional liquidity for small and medium-sized businesses in need of funding.

“A lack of capital and rising risk aversion” of banks when lending to smaller companies “aren’t for the ECB to act on”, Asmussen said today in a speech in Ingolstadt, Germany. “We neither have the mandate for this nor do we have the instruments.”

The ECB flooded financial markets with two tranches of so-called Longer Term Refinancing Operations totaling more than 1 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) a year ago after banks stopped lending to each other because of Europe’s debt crisis. Banks now have started repaying the loans, which were offered at the average of the ECB’s benchmark rate over their duration.

“We have done our part in providing liquidity,” Asmussen said today. “Now it is up to others to do something.” Asked whether this means the ECB will not provide any further long-term loans to fight a lack of capital, he said “that’s all I will tell you on this subject.”

The ECB today left its benchmark rate unchanged at a record low of 0.75 percent. It predicted the 17-nation economy will shrink 0.5 percent this year, more than the 0.3 percent contraction forecast three months ago. The estimate for 2014 growth was reduced to 1 percent from 1.2 percent.

While officials discussed cutting borrowing costs today, the “prevailing consensus was to leave the rates unchanged,” President Mario Draghi said. He expects the economy to “gradually recover” later this year.

Asked whether the ECB may introduce additional measures to encourage bank lending to small and medium-sized companies, Draghi said “we always think and study and reflect, but we are not committing to or planning anything special.” He added that the ECB’s monetary policy “will remain accommodative for as long as needed.”

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