Draghi Says Growing ECB Balance Sheet Is Last Stimulus Tool Left

President Mario Draghi said expanding the European Central Bank’s balance sheet is the last monetary tool left to revive inflation although there is no target for how much it might be increased.

“It’s very difficult for me to give you an exact figure at this point in time,” Draghi told reporters in Washington today during the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund. “I gave you a kind of ballpark figure, say about the size the balance sheet had at the start of 2012.”

The ECB is trying to spur inflation from its lowest in almost five years as its economy risks sliding into its third recession since 2008. The central bank’s balance sheet, which can be boosted by buying assets or accepting collateral in return for loans, now stands at 2.1 trillion euros ($2.7 trillion) compared with a 2012 peak of 3.1 trillion euros.

Recent interest rate cuts, the offering of cheap loans to banks and the forthcoming purchase of private-sector assets should have a sizable impact on the balance sheet, Draghi said.

He denied the ECB is purposefully trying to weaken the euro, saying it has no target for its value and that its recent decline reflects international differences in monetary policy. Draghi also said the ECB sees no serious risk of a bubble in the sovereign debt market.

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