Asset purchase programmes

A central bank’s large-scale asset purchases are intended to bring down risk premiums and/or term premiums. In practice, this means that the purchases exert downward pressure on long-term interest rates, even if short-term rates have reached their lower bound. Via this effect on long-term interest rates, monetary policy continues to exert very direct influence over the investment and consumption expenditure of firms, households and government, as decisions on consuming or investing in durable goods generally concern the medium or long term.

The existing asset purchase programmes were complemented by a new, temporary programme for the purchase of private and public sector securities, namely the Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme (PEPP). The PEPP is intended to counter the serious risks to the monetary policy transmission mechanism and the outlook for the euro area arising from the outbreak and rapidly increasing spread of the coronavirus. This programme had an initial envelope of € 750 billion, which was further expanded to € 1,850 billion in two phases over the course of 2020.

On 16 December 2021, the ECB Governing Council decided that net asset purchases under this programme would continue until the end of March 2022, while principal payments from matured PEPP securities will be reinvested up to at least the end of 2024.

As regards the Asset Purchase Programme (APP), on 10 March 2022 the Governing Council revised the purchase schedule for the second quarter of 2022. Net purchases for the third quarter of 2022 will be adjusted according to the outlook.  If the incoming data support the expectation that the medium-term inflation outlook will not weaken even after the end of the purchase programme, the Governing Council will effectively conclude these net purchases in the third quarter. If the medium-term inflation outlook changes, the Governing Council stands ready to revise its schedule for net asset purchases in terms of size and/or duration.

An overview of the average net APP purchases over time:

Period Average monthly APP purchases (in € billion)
March 2015 – March 2016 60
April 2016 – March 2017 80
April 2017 – December 2017 60
January 2018 – September 2018 30
October 2018 – December 2018 15
January 2019 – October 2019 /
November 2019 – March 2022 201
April 2022 40
May 2022 30
June 2022 20

1 In order to face the consequences of the coronavirus crisis, net asset purchases under the APP were extended in 2020 with an extra temporary envelope of € 120 billion, as decided by the Governing Council on 12 March 2020.

Reinvestments of the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP will continue, in full, for an extended period of time past the date when the Governing Council starts raising the key ECB interest rates, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favourable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.

Further information on the Eurosystem’s asset purchase programmes can be found on the ECB’s website: Asset purchase programmes and Pandemic emergency purchase programme.

Securities lending of assets purchased under the APP and PEPP

As announced at the ECB Governing Council meetings on 5 March 2015 and 1 June 2016, the assets acquired under the public sector purchase programme (PSPP) and the corporate sector purchase programme (CSPP) will be released in a decentralised manner for securities lending operations to support bond and repo market liquidity. Assets acquired via the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP) are also available for securities lending operations, under the same conditions as the asset purchase programme (APP). For further information on the Eurosystem’s general framework for lending operations, see: Securities lending of holdings under the asset purchase programme (APP) and pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP).

Securities lending under the PSPP and the PEPP (public sector)

The National Bank of Belgium will lend the public sector securities purchased under the PSPP and the PEPP (see list of available ISIN codes in appendix) via bilateral repurchasing operations (repos) or bilateral repos combined with bilateral reverse repos with counterparties that have concluded a contract with the NBB for repos in euro.

Further information can be found in the following documents:

Securities lending under the CSPP and the PEPP (corporate sector)

Also under the CSPP and the PEPP, the National Bank of Belgium will offer the possibility to lend corporate securities via bilateral repos combined with bilateral reverse repos with counterparties that have a contract with the NBB for repos. Alongside this bilateral lending, the NBB has decided to take part in Euroclear Bank SA/NV’s Automatic Securities Lending and Borrowing Programme.

Further information can be found in the following documents:

Contact

Market participants can contact NBB’s Front Office desk via e-mail at forex@nbb.be or by phone on +32 2 221 4971.