European Central Bank President Mario Draghi is set to start laying the groundwork for stimulus reduction when policymakers meet on Thursday, giving investors some hints but probably holding off on any major commitment.
Concerned that strong signals could raise market volatility and undo its plans, ECB policymakers are seen shifting their message only incrementally, setting up for a bigger move in October or December, before its 2.3 trillion euro ($2.74 trillion) bond purchase scheme expires at the end of the year.
In the ultimate decision over extending or winding down the purchases, Draghi will have to resolve a dilemma: euro zone economic growth is on its best run in a decade, yet inflation is weak and will miss the ECB’s target for years to come. That raises questions about the central bank’s ability to fulfill its mandate of keeping inflation close to but below 2 percent.
The relentless firming of the