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Law meets economics in the German federal constitutional court: outright monetary transactions on trial

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<mark>Journal publication date</mark>1/03/2014
<mark>Journal</mark>German Law Journal
Issue number2
Volume15
Number of pages40
Pages (from-to)281-320
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The Eurozone banking and sovereign debt crisis has brought the fragility of the European monetary union into sharp focus and exposed the lack of effective instruments at the European level to maintain financial stability. As a response to the crisis, the Member States and the institutions of the Union adopted in short succession several financial assistance measures that have given rise to much political and legal controversy. The European Central Bank (ECB) played an active role in the institutions’ efforts to contain the crisis and prevent the disintegration of the Eurozone by deploying a number of so-called non-standard or unconventional monetary policy measures, namely its Securities Markets Programme, Long-Term Refinancing Operations, and in September 2012 the Outright Monetary Transactions Programme (OMT Programme). The OMT Decision envisages unlimited purchases by the ECB of specific types of sovereign bonds issued by Member States participating in an EFSF/ESM macroeconomic adjustment or precautionary program in the secondary market. Without the program having been activated, i.e. without the ECB actually implementing the decision and without any purchases of government bonds, yields on bonds of the affected Eurozone countries decreased markedly after the announcement of the OMT Decision. The OMT Programme has accordingly been credited with having been instrumental in restoring financial stability and preventing a breakup of the Euro area and with being one of the most effective announcements any central bank has ever made.