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Asset purchase programmes

Looking for information on the pandemic emergency purchase programme (PEPP)?

The ECB’s Asset Purchase Programme (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 programme

Between October 2014 and December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of securities under one or more of the asset purchase programmes. 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 programme 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 programme (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.”

Monthly APP

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 favourable 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 programme
Changes of holdings (previous month) ABSPP CBPP3 CSPP PSPP APP
Holdings* in January 2021 28,545 287,619 255,327 2,355,262 2,926,754
Monthly net purchases 217 1,539 4,064 15,129 20,949
Quarter-end amortisation adjustment and redemptions of coupon STRIPS          
Holdings* in February 2021 28,762 289,158 259,391 2,370,392 2,947,703
*At amortised cost, in EUR millions, at month-end. Figures may not add up due to rounding. Figures are preliminary and may be subject to revision.

Amortisation adjustment are made at the end of each quarter. The amortisation 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 programme

The stock of Eurosystem APP bonds stood at €3086 billion at the end of February 2021. The cumulative net purchases are illustrated below.

Eurosystem cumulative net asset purchases from 2015-2018, broken down by purchase programme type. Reinvestments from 2019.

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)
month ABSPP CBPP3 CSPP PSPP APP
Feb 21 529 1,824 960 10,268 13,582
Mar 21 850 2,818 2,265 12,674 18,607
Apr 21 662 4,278 607 24,919 30,466
May 21 469 2,894 1,144 12,637 17,144
Jun 21 1,375 367 631 19,519 21,892
Jul 21 595 1,132 334 24,532 26,593
Aug 21 1,796 1,002 966 5,118 8,882
Sep 21 961 1,902 1,272 23,640 27,775
Oct 21 623 3,716 1,280 19,227 24,846
Nov 21 417 4,039 1,673 13,991 20,120
Dec 21 644 937 826 8,177 10,584
Jan 22 1,970 9,639 1,915 20,906 34,430
Feb 22 364 2,433 1,544 3,625 7,966
*Actual redemption, based on month end data. ECB estimates in italics. Figures may not add up due to rounding. Figures are preliminary and may be subject to revision. Note: Realised redemptions may differ from estimated redemptions.
History of APP redemptions

Corporate sector purchase programme

Between 8 June 2016 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of corporate sector bonds under the corporate sector purchase programme (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.

CSPP holdings*
EUR mil. 259,391
Date 26 February 2021
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of CSPP holdings*
Market: Primary Secondary
EUR millions * 55,435 203,956
Share * 21.37% 78.63%
Date 28 February 2021
* End of month, at amortised cost
Historical lists of securities held under the CSPP
Select date

Public sector purchase programme

The Eurosystem conducted net purchases of public sector securities under the public sector purchase programme (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 recognised agencies, regional and local governments, international organisations and multilateral development banks located in the euro area

Since December 2018 government bonds and recognised agencies make up around 90% of the total Eurosystem portfolio, while securities issued by international organisations 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.

PSPP holdings*
EUR millions 2,370,392
Date 26 February 2021
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of debt securities under the PSPP
(EUR millions) Cumulative net purchases as of end December 2020* Monthly net purchases February 2021 Cumulative net purchases as of February 2021* WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings end December 2020** Current WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings**
Austria 68,160 583 69,357 7.70 7.57
Belgium 86,392 583 87,627 8.22 8.06
Cyprus 3,277 65 3,427 9.95 9.86
Germany 580,224 8,222 588,192 6.52 6.56
Estonia 281 21 324 9.44 9.28
Spain 292,880 -2,630 292,369 8.05 8.06
Finland 35,897 413 36,772 7.04 6.95
France 488,536 -453 492,681 7.22 7.20
Ireland 37,522 314 38,171 8.72 8.59
Italy 411,197 3,800 418,790 7.28 7.14
Lithuania 4,586 -7 4,683 9.97 10.19
Luxembourg 2,987 73 3,164 5.41 5.58
Latvia 2,802 75 2,599 10.04 11.42
Malta 1,215 7 1,222 9.74 9.55
The Netherlands 118,662 599 119,658 7.57 7.62
Portugal 45,891 469 46,884 7.05 7.05
Slovenia 9,084 145 9,041 9.35 9.85
Slovakia 14,614 246 15,130 8.18 8.07
Supranationals 258,911 2,603 261,812 7.43 7.55
Total 2,463,117 15,129 2,491,902 7.29 7.28
* Cumulative monthly net purchases figures represent the difference between the acquisition cost of all purchase operations and the redeemed nominal amounts. ** Remaining weighted average maturity (WAM) in years. Notes: Figures may not add up due to rounding. Figures are preliminary and may be subject to revision. The monthly purchase volumes are reported on a settlement basis and net of redemptions. The Eurosystem will continue to adhere to the principle of market neutrality via smooth and flexible implementation. To this end, the reinvestment of principal redemptions will be distributed over the year to allow for a regular and balanced market presence(see press release on technical parameters for the reinvestment). When assessing the remaining WAM of Eurosystem holdings relative to a market measure, deviations could reflect, inter alia, the 1 to 30 year maturity range of purchases; the issue share limits taking into account holdings in other Eurosystem portfolios; as well as the availability and liquidity conditions in the market during the implementation period; and the impact of portfolio redemptions and their respective reinvestments.

Asset-backed securities purchase programme

Between 21 November 2014 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of asset-backed securities under the asset-backed securities purchase programme (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.

ABSPP holdings*
EUR mil. 28,762
Date 26 February 2021
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of ABSPP holdings*
Market: Primary Secondary
EUR millions * 16,470 12,292
Share * 57.26% 42.74%
Date 28 February 2021
* End of month, at amortised cost

Covered bond purchase programme 3

Between 20 October 2014 and 19 December 2018 the Eurosystem conducted net purchases of covered bonds under a third covered bond purchase programme (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 programmes (CBPP1, CBPP2 and CBPP3) are made available for securities lending by a number of Eurosystem central banks.

CBPP3 holdings*
EUR mil. 289,158
Date 26 February 2021
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of CBPP3 holdings*
Market: Primary Secondary
EUR millions * 103,822 185,336
Share * 35.90% 64.10%
Date 28 February 2021
* End of month, at amortised cost

Terminated programmes

Securities Markets Programme

On 10 May 2010, the central banks of the Eurosystem started purchasing securities in the context of the Securities Markets Programme (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 6 September 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 programme, 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 sterilising the liquidity injected by the programme and the last operation was allotted on 10 June 2014.

SMP holdings*
EUR mil. 28,663
Date 26 February 2021
* at amortised cost
Total Eurosystem SMP holdings by issuer as at 31 December 2020
Issuer country Nominal amount (EUR billions) Book value* (EUR billions) Average remaining maturity (years)
Ireland 0.6 0.6 4.2
Greece 2.3 2.1 3.6
Spain 6.5 6.5 0.3
Italy 18.5 18.4 0.6
Portugal 1.0 1.0 1.5
Total** 29.0 28.7 0.9
* SMP holdings are valued at amortised cost. ** Totals may not add up due to rounding.

Covered bond purchase programme

CBPP holdings*
EUR mil. 452
Date 26 February 2021
* at amortised cost

On 2 July 2009, the Eurosystem launched its first covered bond purchase programme (CBPP1). The programme 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 programme until maturity.

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

Covered bond purchase programme 2

CBPP2 holdings*
EUR mil. 2,590
Date 26 February 2021
* at amortised cost

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

Breakdown of CBPP2 holdings*
Market Primary Secondary
EUR mil. * 6,015 10,375
Share * 36.70% 63.30%
Date 31 October 2012
* at amortised cost

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