ECB lends record €442 billion to banks


The European Central Bank said today that it lent a record €442.24 billion at 1 per cent in one-year funds to commercial banks.

The previous record for the central bank’s refinancing operations was €348.6 billion in two-week funds on December 18, 2007 as crisis-hit commercial banks scrambled to bolster their balance sheets during the crunch year-end period.

Analysts at UniCredit markets expected the ECB operation to result in lower rates paid by commercial banks for longer-term borrowing in general and to reduce demand for short-term funds as well.

If that is the outcome, then interest rates overall would be expected to remain low, a key issue as the eurozone grapples with what is likely to be slow recovery from the worst global recession in more than 60 years.

The ECB has resisted the so-called “quantitative easing” practised by the US Federal Reserve and Bank of England — essentially printing money to buy government and private debt to boost recession-hit economies.

The ECB, however, has generated a flood of cash through loans that will now extend to 371 days, or 12 months, from one week to six months in the past.

Analysts had expected banks to leap at the chance to get an unlimited one-year loan at the ECB’s lowest rate ever.

The central bank has said that in subsequent one-year operations — the next is scheduled for September 29 — the rate could be higher depending on market conditions.

By providing huge amounts of cash to commercial banks, the ECB aims to lower the cost of borrowing by companies and individuals, and spur economic activity.

Money markets influenced by central bank operations determine the flow of credit for vast numbers of people around the globe, from managers trying to fund their businesses to families and students seeking mortgages and personal loans.

June 24, 2009
Source: Times Online

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