ECB to Lend Greater-Than-Forecast $645 Billion as Banks Line Up for FundsDecember 22, 2011
The European Central Bank will lend euro-area banks a record amount for three years in its latest attempt to keep credit flowing to the economy during the sovereign debt crisis.
The Frankfurt-based ECB awarded 489 billion euros ($645 billion) in 1,134-day loans today, the most ever in a single operation and more than economists’ median estimate of 293 billion euros in a Bloomberg News survey. The ECB said 523 banks asked for the funds, which will be lent at the average of its benchmark interest rate -- currently 1 percent -- over the period of the loans. They start tomorrow.
“It was obviously an offer the banks could not refuse,” said Laurent Fransolet, head of fixed-income strategy at Barclays Capital in London. “It shows the ECB is not out of ammunition and it gives banks security on liquidity for a few years. On the other hand it means banks will rely on the ECB for longer.”
Europe’s debt crisis has increased the risk of government and bank defaults, making institutions wary of lending to each other and driving up the cost of credit. The ECB is trying to ensure that banks have access to cheap cash for the medium term so that they can keep lending to companies and households. In addition to the longer-term loans, the ECB has widened the pool of collateral banks can use to secure the funds.Read More...