At its monetary policy meeting on 12 March, the Governing Council decided on a comprehensive package of monetary policy measures. Together with the substantial monetary policy stimulus already in place, these measures will support liquidity and funding conditions for households, businesses and banks and will help to preserve the smooth provision of credit to the real economy.
Since the last Governing Council meeting in late January, the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) has been a major shock to the growth prospects of the global and euro area economies and has heightened market volatility. Even if ultimately temporary in nature, it will have a significant impact on economic activity. In particular, it will slow down production as a result of disrupted supply chains and reduce domestic and foreign demand, especially through the adverse impact of the necessary containment measures. In addition, the heightened uncertainty negatively affects expenditure plans and their financing. The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook are clearly on the downside.
In addition to the previously identified risks related to geopolitical factors, rising protectionism and vulnerabilities in emerging markets, the spread of the coronavirus adds a new and substantial source of downside risk to the growth outlook. Against this background, the ECB’s Governing Council took a number of policy decisions to preserve the monetary stance and to underpin the transmission of monetary policy to the real economy.