ECB Policymakers 'Remain Firm' on Bond-Buying Plan


European Central Bank policymakers agreed on March 5 that their asset-purchase plan was warranted and that they needed to remain firm and implement the program "without hesitation," records of the meeting published on Thursday showed.

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At the March 5 meeting, the ECB said it would begin printing money to buy bonds -- so-called quantitative easing (QE) -- on the following Monday (March 9). It also presented updated forecasts from its staff economists that gave a more rosy outlook.

"The March 2015 projections should ... not be interpreted as suggesting that the latest monetary policy measures were less necessary," the accounts of the meeting read.

"Hence, it was essential for the Governing Council to remain firm, implementing the measures adopted without hesitation until the objectives were reached, in line with its commitment to keep this policy in place for as long as needed," the accounts read.

The comments are significant because just three weeks into the 19-month bond-buying program, analysts have begun speculating that the ECB may throttle back the pace of purchases early, possibly even this year.

Under its QE plan, the ECB aims to purchase 60 billion euros a month of mainly sovereign bonds until September 2016, or beyond that if needed to see a sustained adjustment in the inflation path back towards its target of just under 2 percent.

The minutes of the meeting give a bare-bones account of the discussion, but they do provide a glimpse of the pressure and tension involved in ECB decision-making, which seeks to forge consensus among 19 different countries from Germany to Greece. (Writing by Paul Carrel; Editing by Susan Fenton)