The European Central Bank has left its benchmark refinancing rate on hold at a historic low of 0%. The move comes days before chief Mario Draghi is expected to step down.
The European Central Bank (ECB) announced Thursday it would keep its interest rates at record lows, leaving its monetary policy unchanged as Mario Draghi ends his eight years of leadership at the bank.
Draghi presided over his last policy meeting on Thursday. The 72-year-old is expected to step down at the end of the month, passing on the role of ECB president to Christine Lagarde, former chairperson of the International Monetary Fund.
Draghi's departure comes amid growing concerns about the eurozone's economic vision and with pressure mounting on Lagarde to roll back the monetary policy of her soon-to-be predecessor.
Draghi unveiled a contentious package of measures last month aimed at stimulating growth and inflation in the eurozone. The steps triggered rare public opposition from several members of the ECB's 25-member governing council.
The bank, headquartered in Frankfurt, said it would hold borrowing costs at their present levels on an open-ended basis amid weak inflation. The bank added it would do so "until it has seen the inflation outlook robustly converge to a level sufficiently close to" the ECB inflation target of just below 2%.
The ECB confirmed it would launch on November 1 a €20 billion ($22 billion) per month bond-buying scheme.The bank is expected to maintain its deposit rate at -0.5% and its marginal lending rate at 0.25%.
The bank hopes that a lower deposit rate will encourage banks to lend, and consequently boost economic growth.
Seven years ago, Draghi pledged the ECB would "do whatever it takes" to save the euro during the eurozone's debt crisis. His promise was seen as a turning point in the crisis.
In addition to cutting interest rates, Draghi had launched a €2.6 trillion bond-buying program that ended last December amid hopes the debt crisis was coming to an end and that inflation was back on track.
During Draghi's tenure, 10 million jobs were generated across the bloc and the unemployment rate dropped.
mvb (AP, dpa, Reuters)