Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Mario Draghi pushes for ECB to accept Greek and Cypriot ‘junk’ loan bundles

Financial Times
September 30, 2014

Mario Draghi is to push the European Central Bank to buy bundles of Greek and Cypriot bank loans with “junk” ratings, in a move that is set to exacerbate tensions between Germany and the bank.

Mr Draghi, ECB president, will this week unveil details of a plan to buy hundreds of billions of euros’ worth of private-sector assets – the central bank’s latest attempt to save the eurozone from economic stagnation.

The ECB’s executive board will propose that existing requirements on the quality of assets accepted by the bank are relaxed to allow the eurozone’s monetary guardian to buy the safer slices of Greek and Cypriot asset backed securities, or ABS, say people familiar with the matter.

Mr Draghi’s proposal is designed to make the programme of buying ABS, which are bundles of packaged loans, as inclusive as possible. If it is backed by the majority of members of the ECB’s governing council, the central bank would be able to buy instruments from banks of all 18 eurozone member states.

However, the idea is likely to face staunch opposition in Germany, straining already tense relations between the ECB and officials in the eurozone’s largest economy.


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