ECB gives banks €73 billion relief in ‘profound’ move

ECB HQ in Frankfurt

The European Central Bank on Thursday gave banks in the euro zone relief worth an estimated €73 billion from a crucial capital requirement in a major effort to help the lenders keep credit flowing amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Governing Council of the European Central Bank (ECB) said it has decided that it concurs with ECB Banking supervision that there are “exceptional circumstances” allowing the temporary exclusion of certain central bank exposures from their leverage ratio.

The ECB said this exclusion would raise the aggregate leverage ratio of 5.36% by about 0.3 percentage points.

Reuters calculated that this is equal to €73 billion based on the latest available data as of the end of March.

The ECB Governing Council said in an opinion: “The situation brought about by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has affected all euro area economies in an unprecedented and profound way.

“This situation has resulted in an ongoing need for a high degree of monetary policy accommodation, which in turn requires the undeterred functioning of the bank-based transmission channel of monetary policy.

“In the view of the Governing Council, therefore, the condition of exceptional circumstances warranting the temporary exclusion of certain exposures to central banks from the calculation of banks’ total exposure measures is met for the euro area as a whole.

“Euro area national competent authorities which intend to exercise the discretion provided for under Article 500b(2) of the CRR in relation to less significant institutions may rely upon this opinion issued by the ECB as monetary authority of the euro area.”