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Asset purchase programs

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The ECB's Asset Purchase Program (APP) is part of a package of non-standard monetary policy measures that also includes targeted longer-term refinancing operations, and which was initiated in mid-2014 to support the monetary policy transmission mechanism and provide the amount of policy accommodation needed to ensure price stability. It consists of the

APP net purchases, by programs

Between October 2014 and December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of securities under one or more of the asset purchase programs. During the net asset purchase phase, monthly purchase pace averaged:

  • € 60 billion from March 2015 to March 2016
  • € 80 billion from April 2016 to March 2017
  • € 60 billion from April 2017 to December 2017
  • € 30 billion from January 2018 to September 2018
  • € 15 billion from October 2018 to December 2018

Between January 2019 and October 2019, the Eurosystem fully reinvested the principal payments from maturing securities held in the APP portfolios. The Governing Council aimed to maintain the size of its cumulative net purchases under each constituent program of the APP at their respective levels as at the end of December 2018.

On 12 September 2019 the ECB Governing Council decided that “net purchases will be restarted under the Governing Council's asset purchase program (APP) at a monthly pace of € 20 billion as from 1 November 2019. The Governing Council expects them to run for as long as necessary to reinforce the accommodative impact of its policy rates, and to end shortly before it starts raising the key ECB interest rates. "

Note: The average monthly APP targets were first set by the ECB Governing Council at the beginning of the PSPP in March 2015. The additional envelope of EUR 120 bn decided by the Governing Council on 12 March 2020 has been linearized for illustration in this chart, while it will be implemented in full according to the established principles with additional flexibility.

In addition, reinvestments of the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP will continue, in full, for an extended period of time past the date on which the Governing Council begins to raise the key ECB interest rates, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favorable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.

The table presents the Eurosystem holdings at the end of the month and a breakdown in the change of Eurosystem holdings.

Eurosystem Holdings under the Asset Purchase Program
Changes of holdings (previous month)ABSPPCBPP3CSPPPSPPAPP
Holdings * in March 202128,709289,424266,0602,379,0532,963,246
Monthly net purchases-266-55,01514,18618,930
Quarter-end amortization adjustment and redemptions of coupon STRIPS
Holdings * in April 202128,443289,418271,0752,393,2392,982,176

Amortization adjustment are made at the end of each quarter. The amortization emerges from an accounting principle that implies that securities purchased at prices below face value have to be revalued upwards over time towards maturity, and revalued downwards over time, if purchased at prices above face value. STRIPS are accounted for at the end of each month (see Question 1.4 in the Q&A).

History of cumulative purchase breakdowns under the APP

Weekly changes are reported below and in the Eurosystem weekly financial statement. Full historical data are available in the Statistics section under Data on daily liquidity conditions.

APP cumulative net purchases, by programs

The stock of Eurosystem APP bonds stood at € 3128 billion at the end of April 2021. The cumulative net purchases are illustrated below.

APP redemptions

The Eurosystem adheres to the principle of market neutrality via smooth and flexible implementation. To this end, the Governing Council decided to distribute the reinvestment of principal redemptions through time to allow for a regular and balanced market presence.

The table presents estimated monthly redemptions for the next 12 months.

Expected monthly redemption amounts for the APP over a rolling 12-month horizon (in EUR millions)
monthABSPPCBPP3CSPPPSPPAPP
Apr 217034,2781,51324,91931,413
May 214952,89438412,63716,410
Jun 211,37336753119,51921,790
Jul 216161,13233424,53626,618
Aug 211,8121,0029664,8588,638
Sep 219741,9021,22923,64527,750
Oct 216453,7741,28019,22424,923
Nov 214344,0481,67313,77419,929
Dec 216649378268,17710,604
Jan 221,9949,7111,94220,90634,553
Feb 223812,4521,5443,6258,002
Mar 227056,3331,41612,60321,057
Apr 229052,9721,12538,61943,621
History of APP redemptions

Corporate sector purchase programs

Between 8 June 2016 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of corporate sector bonds under the corporate sector purchase program (CSPP). As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the CSPP portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the CSPP.

Securities purchased under the CSPP are made available for securities lending to support market liquidity and collateral availability in the market.

EUR mil.275,031
Date14 May 2021
Breakdown of CSPP holdings *
Market:PrimarySecondary
EUR millions *58,713212,362
Share *21.66%78.34%
Date30 April 2021

Public sector purchase programs

The Eurosystem conducted net purchases of public sector securities under the public sector purchase program (PSPP) between 9 March 2015 and 19 December 2018. As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the PSPP portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the PSPP.

The securities covered by the PSPP include:

  • nominal and inflation-linked central government bonds
  • bonds issued by recognized agencies, regional and local governments, international organizations and multilateral development banks located in the euro area

Since December 2018 government bonds and recognized agencies make up around 90% of the total Eurosystem portfolio, while securities issued by international organizations and multilateral development banks account for around 10%. These proportions will continue to guide the net purchases.

Securities purchased under the PSPP are made available for securities lending to support market liquidity and collateral availability in the market.

EUR millions2,404,274
Date14 May 2021
Breakdown of debt securities under the PSPP
(EUR millions)Cumulative net purchases as of end December 2020 *Monthly net purchases April 2021Cumulative net purchases as of April 2021 *WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings end December 2020 **Current WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings **
Austria68,16066970,6537.707.47
Belgium86,39283189,1268.227.90
Cyprus3,277863,6119.959.72
Germany580,2246,000598,9966.526.62
Estonia281213729.449.11
Spain292,8803,141296,9918.057.93
Finland35,897-91836,3187.047.31
France488,536-231494,5667.227.22
Ireland37,52231838,8818.728.42
Italy411,1973,181424,7627.287.09
Lithuania4,5861344,9279.9710.32
Luxembourg2,987723,3015.415.56
Latvia2,8021022,80810.0411.16
Malta1,21541,2299.749.36
The Netherlands118,6621,618122,3727.577.66
Portugal45,891-1,37446,0057.057.41
Slovenia9,084-929,1129.3510.17
Slovakia14,61430415,4948.188.14
Supranationals258,911319261,5177.437.87
Total2,463,11714,1862,521,0427.297.31

Asset-backed securities purchase programs

Between 21 November 2014 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of asset-backed securities under the asset-backed securities purchase program (ABSPP). As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the ABSPP portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the ABSPP.

EUR mil.28,754
Date14 May 2021
Breakdown of ABSPP holdings *
Market:PrimarySecondary
EUR millions *16,77711,666
Share *58.98%41.02%
Date30 April 2021

Covered bond purchase program 3

Between 20 October 2014 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of covered bonds under a third covered bond purchase program (CBPP3). As of January 2019, the Eurosystem continued to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities held in the CBPP3 portfolio. As of 1 November 2019 the Eurosystem restarted net purchases under the CBPP3.

Securities purchased under the covered bond purchase programs (CBPP1, CBPP2 and CBPP3) are made available for securities lending by a number of Eurosystem central banks.

EUR mil.291,635
Date14 May 2021
Breakdown of CBPP3 holdings *
Market:PrimarySecondary
EUR millions *104,875184,543
Share *36.24%63.76%
Date30 April 2021

Terminated programs

Securities Markets Program

On 10 May 2010, the central banks of the Eurosystem started purchasing securities in the context of the Securities Markets Program (SMP), with a view to addressing the severe tensions in certain market segments which had been hampering the monetary policy transmission mechanism. Following a Governing Council decision on September 6, 2012 to initiate outright monetary transactions, the SMP was terminated. The existing securities in the SMP portfolio will be held to maturity. For details see the press release: Technical features of Outright Monetary Transactions; as well as ECB decision of 14 May 2010 ECB / 2010/5 and the press release of 10 May 2010: ECB decides on measures to address severe tensions in financial markets.

With a view to leaving liquidity conditions unaffected by the program, the Eurosystem re-absorbed the liquidity provided through the SMP by means of weekly liquidity-absorbing operations until June 2014. On 5 June 2014, the ECB suspended the weekly fine-tuning operations sterilizing the liquidity injected by the program and the last operation was allotted on 10 June 2014.

EUR mil.17,052
Date14 May 2021
Total Eurosystem SMP holdings by issuer as at 31 December 2020
Issuer countryNominal amount (EUR billions)Book value * (EUR billions)Average remaining maturity (years)
Ireland0.60.64.2
Greece2.32.13.6
Spain6.56.50.3
Italy18.518.40.6
Portugal1.01.01.5
Total**29.028.70.9

Covered bond purchase programs

EUR mil.444
Date14 May 2021

On July 2, 2009, the Eurosystem launched its first covered bond purchase program (CBPP1). The program ended, as planned, on 30 June 2010 when it reached a nominal amount of € 60 billion. The Eurosystem intends to hold the assets bought under this program until maturity.

For details, see ECB decision of 2 July 2009 (ECB / 2009/16) as well as the press releases Purchase programs for covered bonds (4 June 2009) and Covered bond purchase programs completed (30 June 2010).

Covered bond purchase program 2

EUR mil.2,415
Date14 May 2021

In November 2011, the Eurosystem launched a second covered bond purchase program (CBPP2). The program ended, as planned, on October 31, 2012 when it reached a nominal amount of € 16.4 billion. The Eurosystem intends to hold the assets bought under this program until maturity.

Breakdown of CBPP2 holdings *
MarketPrimarySecondary
EUR mil. *6,01510,375
Share *36.70%63.30%
Date31 October 2012

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