The news came Thursday as Draghi addressed a press conference at ECB's headquarters in Frankfurt, following a meeting of the bank’s governing council. The council had earlier voted to leave eurozone rates unchanged. Its benchmark interest rate for the bloc remains at a rock-bottom 0.05%.
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But Draghi did leave the door open to the possibility of bond purchases by governments in the eurozone in the first quarter of next year. Inflation-averse Germany would need to be won over to the policy. He added that the ECB’s governing council remains “unanimous in its commitment to use additional unconventional instruments within its mandate” to combat prolonged low inflation.
Draghi also said the ECB will reassess the success of its existing stimulus programs against the background of weak oil prices and their impact on the eurozone.
Ahead of the ECB chief’s statement, market participants had anticipated the bank would delay a decision on more bond buying, which is known as quantitative easing.
Speaking to Bloomberg ahead of the press conference, Alberto Gallo, head of macro credit research at Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) , said he expected to see a “postponing of the announcement to Q1.”
Vitor Constancio, ECB's vice president and Draghi's deputy, has hinted that the central bank might embark on sovereign QE in the first quarter of 2015 -- and then only if the measures taken so far fail to haul the eurozone out of its economic coma.
On Thursday, Draghi made no reference to the shape of any future QE, particularly whether it would include mezzanine and not just senior debt tranches.
QE is widely regarded as a policy of last resort. Typically, a central bank will invoke the step when traditional monetary responses -- say, cutting interest rates -- have ceased to have an effect on an economy.