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German finance minister against idea of ECB buying ABS: magazine

German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends the G20 finance ministers meeting during the Spring Meeting of the International Monetary
German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble attends the G20 finance ministers meeting during the Spring Meeting of the International Monetary

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's finance minister has signaled his opposition to any move by the European Central Bank to buy asset-backed securities to help indebted states, telling his party it would amount to "covert state financing", according to German magazine Spiegel.

Spiegel said in its edition published on Sunday that Wolfgang Schaeuble made the comment during a meeting of his Christian Democrat (CDU) party last Wednesday, telling those present the purchase of asset-backed securities (ABS) by the European Central Bank (ECB) would infringe European rules.

German newspaper Die Welt, citing a central bank source, said last Wednesday a majority of ECB Governing Council members seemed to be in favor of the central bank buying ABS.

ECB policymaker Yves Mersch said on the same day, however, the ECB would not subsidize markets with asset purchases.

A spokesman for the German finance ministry said it never commented on internal party discussions.

At the start of May, the ECB said it had set up a task force with the European Investment Bank (EIB) to assess ways to unblock lending to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), for example by promoting a market for ABS based on SME loans.

ABS would allow banks to pass some credit risk on to other investors, enabling them to lend more and so potentially boost growth.

The move to promote ABS is controversial, particularly in Germany, as during the financial crisis such securities became toxic due to the default of housing loans that underpinned them.

(Reporting by Alexandra Hudson; Editing by Mark Potter)

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