Asset purchase programmes

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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 February 2020 28,296 270,630 194,854 2,129,399 2,623,179
Monthly net purchases 2,923 3,931 6,965 37,323 51,141
Quarter-end amortisation adjustment and redemptions of coupon STRIPS -5 -446 -312 -7,088 -7,852
Holdings* in March 2020 31,213 274,114 201,507 2,159,633 2,666,468
*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 €2,783 billion at the end of March 2020. 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
Mar 20* 712 2,546 2,608 13,151 19,017
Apr 20 1,044 1,722 1,115 30,329 34,210
May 20 480 371 2,153 12,511 15,515
Jun 20 765 2,916 1,171 13,082 17,934
Jul 20 852 3,591 1,156 28,657 34,256
Aug 20 453 1,621 74 423 2,571
Sep 20 616 3,427 961 18,930 23,934
Oct 20 919 6,510 850 23,629 31,908
Nov 20 660 5,200 2,431 22,509 30,800
Dec 20 623 302 701 8,871 10,497
Jan 21 1,398 4,995 2,516 15,155 24,064
Feb 21 424 1,911 846 10,268 13,449
Mar 21 732 2,636 2,639 12,663 18,670
*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. 203,405
Date 3 April 2020
* End of week, at amortised cost

List of corporate bond securities held under the CSPP/PEPP*
* end of week

Breakdown of CSPP holdings*
Market: Primary Secondary
EUR mil. * 36,401 165,106
Share * 18.06% 81.94%
Date 31 March 2020
* End of month, at amortised cost

History of cumulative purchase breakdowns under the CSPP

Breakdown of CSPP portfolio by sector, rating and country of risk (semi-annual) last update: 14 October 2019

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 2,169,641
Date 3 April 2020
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of debt securities under the PSPP
Book value as of March 2020 (EUR mln) Cumulative net purchases as of end December 2019* Monthly net purchases Cumulative net purchases* WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings end December 2019** Current WAM of PSPP portfolio holdings**
Austria 59,572 1,023 61,947 7.63 7.59
Belgium 74,747 1,964 78,377 8.59 8.40
Cyprus 1,945 116 2,203 8.65 8.86
Germany 527,834 2,046 533,247 6.30 6.32
Estonia 7 0 7 0.00 0.00
Spain 259,002 5,407 266,616 8.21 8.25
Finland 33,886 335 35,001 6.64 6.46
France 425,163 8,873 443,319 6.95 6.89
Ireland 32,723 644 34,474 8.24 8.36
Italy 363,788 11,855 382,461 7.17 7.15
Lithuania 3,703 25 3,837 9.37 9.25
Luxembourg 2,718 47 2,864 3.97 3.87
Latvia 2,360 67 2,485 10.61 10.68
Malta 1,152 16 1,184 10.34 10.16
The Netherlands 114,763 727 111,759 7.19 7.43
Portugal 41,189 416 42,190 7.62 7.50
Slovenia 8,210 62 8,009 9.91 10.13
Slovakia 12,522 122 12,855 8.49 8.30
Supranationals 232,808 3,575 239,051 7.07 7.23
Total 2,198,092 37,323 2,261,887 7.12 7.14
* 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.

PSPP weighted average maturities by jurisdictions (semi-annual)

History of cumulative purchase breakdowns under the PSPP

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. 31,691
Date 3 April 2020
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of ABSPP holdings*
Market: Primary Secondary
EUR mil. * 16,150 15,063
Share * 51.74% 48.26%
Date 31 March 2020
* End of month, at amortised cost

History of cumulative purchases breakdowns under the ABSPP

Breakdown of ABSPP portfolio by rating, country of risk and collateral type (semi-annual) last update: 14 October 2019

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. 275,233
Date 3 April 2020
* End of week, at amortised cost
Breakdown of CBPP3 holdings*
Market: Primary Secondary
EUR mil. * 105,655 168,459
Share * 38.54% 61.46%
Date 31 March 2020
* End of month, at amortised cost

History of cumulative purchases breakdowns under the CBPP3

Breakdown of CBPP3 portfolio by rating and country of risk (semi-annual) last update: 14 October 2019

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 2010ECB/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. 41,117
Date 3 April 2020
* at amortised cost
Total Eurosystem SMP holdings by issuer as at 31 December 2019
Issuer country Nominal amount (EUR billions) Book value* (EUR billions) Average remaining maturity (years)
Ireland 3.1 3.0 1.6
Greece 3.5 3.2 3.2
Spain 10.7 10.7 1.1
Italy 27.4 27.1 1.2
Portugal 4.0 3.9 1.0
Total** 48.5 47.9 1.3
* SMP holdings are valued at amortised cost.
** Totals may not add up due to rounding.

History of SMP holdings per issuer last update: 27 January 2020

Covered bond purchase programme
CBPP holdings*
EUR mil. 842
Date 3 April 2020
* 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. 2,911
Date 3 April 2020
* 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

For details, see ECB decision of 3 November 2011 ( ECB/2011/17 ) and the press release ECB announces details of its new covered bond purchase programme (CBPP2) (3 November 2011).

History of cumulative purchases breakdowns under the CBPP2