Excerpts from the Introductory statement to the press conference by President Mario Draghi:
Taking stock of the evidence available at the beginning of 2016, it is clear that the monetary policy measures that we have adopted since mid-2014 are working. As a result, developments in the real economy, credit provision and financing conditions have improved and have strengthened the euro area’s resilience to recent global economic shocks. The decisions taken in early December to extend our monthly net asset purchases of €60 billion to at least the end of March 2017, and to reinvest the principal payments on maturing securities for as long as necessary, were fully appropriate. They will result in a significant addition of liquidity to the banking system and will strengthen our forward guidance on interest rates.
Yet, as we start the new year, downside risks have increased again amid heightened uncertainty about emerging market economies’ growth prospects, volatility in financial and commodity markets, and geopolitical risks. In this environment, euro area inflation dynamics also continue to be weaker than expected. It will therefore be necessary to review and possibly reconsider our monetary policy stance at our next meeting in early March, when the new staff macroeconomic projections become available which will also cover the year 2018. In the meantime, work will be carried out to ensure that all the technical conditions are in place to make the full range of policy options available for implementation, if needed.
The risks to the euro area growth outlook remain on the downside and relate in particular to the heightened uncertainties regarding developments in the global economy, as well as to broader geopolitical risks. These risks have the potential to weigh on global growth and foreign demand for euro area exports and on confidence more widely.
On the basis of current oil futures prices, which are well below the level observed a few weeks ago, the expected path of annual HICP inflation in 2016 is now significantly lower compared with the outlook in early December. Inflation rates are currently expected to remain at very low or negative levels in the coming months and to pick up only later in 2016. Thereafter, supported by our monetary policy measures and the expected economic recovery, inflation rates should continue to recover, but risks of second-round effects should be monitored closely.
To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the signals coming from the monetary analysis confirmed the effectiveness of the monetary policy measures in place and the need to review and possibly reconsider our monetary policy stance at our next meeting in early March in order to secure a return of inflation rates towards levels below, but close to, 2%.